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U.S. diplomat elected to lead U.N. IT agency over Russian official

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American Doreen Bogdan-Martin beat out a Russian official on Thursday, to become the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, the first woman to lead the U.N. agency. Photo courtesy Twitter
American Doreen Bogdan-Martin beat out a Russian official on Thursday, to become the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, the first woman to lead the U.N. agency. Photo courtesy Twitter

Sept. 29 (UPI) -- American Doreen Bogdan-Martin beat out a Russian official on Thursday to become the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union.

Bogdan-Martin also becomes the first woman to lead the main technology agency within the United Nations and will serve a four-year term.

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The experienced telecoms diplomat will now lead the 157-year-old agency, the oldest within the United Nations.

Bogdan-Martin beat Russian rival Rashid Ismailov by 139 votes to 25. She'll replace the agency's current secretary-general Houlin Zhao whose term is up at the end of the year.

Officials did not reveal which 25 countries voted against her appointment but the election seemed to pit an open interpretation of the internet and technology favored by western nations, against a government-controlled approach used in authoritarian regimes.

Censorship and suppression of political opposition across social media platforms are the norms in many countries.

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"I thank my Administration and all Member States for putting their trust in me to lead @ITU as its next Secretary General. Let's Connect and Unite!," Bogdan-Martin wrote on Twitter.

The ITU helps facilitate the use of radio, satellite and the internet. That includes assigning satellite orbits globally, coordinating technical standards, and improving infrastructure in the developing world.

"I fully believe in the power and potential of connectivity to drive economic growth and transform healthcare, education, employment, gender equality and youth empowerment," Bogdan Martin said in a statement following her win.

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"We are riding a powerful wave of innovation, and we need to seize this opportunity to improve peoples' lives -- especially those who are excluded. What we do now will affect generations to come."

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