A career diplomat from Bulgaria defeated a controversial Egyptian candidate to head the United Nations agency for culture and education, UNESCO announced on Tuesday.
The chairman of UNESCO's executive board said that Bulgaria's ambassador to France, Irina Bokova, beat longtime Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny in a secret ballot vote.
UNESCO's press office said that Bokova won 31 to 27 in a suspenseful fifth round.
The Egyptian was long considered a favorite, despite his threat last year to burn Israeli books, and Egypt's contentious record of cultural censorship under his watch. Hosny apologized for the book-burning comment, but many Jewish activists said he was unfit to be the UN's guardian of culture.