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Morocco takes leadership of UN Rights body amid criticism

Delegates sit at the opening of the 41th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, June 24, 2019   -  
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Morocco was on Wednesday voted to lead the United Nations Human Rights Council after beating off a challenge from South Africa.

In a vote in Geneva on Wednesday, Morocco’s Ambassador Omar Zniber was elected council president after polling 30 votes. His South African opponent, Mxolisi Nkosi, managed just 17 votes.

The ballot came after Africa, whose turn it was to assume the presidency of the Human Rights Council, failed to agree on a single candidate.

Prior to the vote, South Africa criticized Morocco's human rights record, saying the kingdom's election as chair of the Council would stain the UN rights body's legitimacy.

Morocco is seen by several African countries as an occupying power in Western Sahara. Rabat's candidacy was also opposed by its neighbor Algeria.

The UN Human Rights Council was established in 2006 with a mandate to protect and promote human rights around the worlds.

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