By Andrew Warshaw
Published on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 15:49
March 5 - African football's contentious presidential election was thrown even more sharply into focus today when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) threw out Jacques Anouma's (pictured) last-ditch appeal against being barred from taking on the veteran incumbent Issa Hayatou.
The CAS ruling means Hayatou, in power since 1987, will run unchallenged at the forthcoming ballot at the Confederation of African Football's congress in Marrakech next weekend.
Anouma was barred from being a candidate after CAF controversially changed its statutes, with critics pointing the finger at Hayatou and his colleagues for allegedly seeking a way of deliberately manipulating the rules to stave off Anouma's challenge . Hayatou brought forward rule change in the Seychelles last September, endorsed by CAF member nations who voted 44-6 in favour.
Under the amendment, only voting members of CAF's Executive Committee were given the right to contest the presidential election. Anouma, from the Ivory Coast, does sit on CAF's executive committee but only because he serves as one of the continent's representatives on the FIFA executive committee. He does not have any voting rights.
It is the fourth time that CAS had rejected a challenge to the change in the CAF statutes, two of them lodged by Liberia. "The CAS panel ... decided to dismiss the appeal of Jacques Anouma; broadly following the reasoning of the CAF Executive Committee, whose jurisdiction to decide the contested decision was recognized by the CAS," read a statement from the Switzerland-based legal body.
"Thus, it was confirmed that the CAF Statutes adopted in September 2012 were applicable in assessing the validity of the candidates in the presidential election and that Anouma did not meet these criteria because he had never been a member [of] the CAF Executive Committee."
Anouma's forced exclusion means the often controversial Hayatou is set to extend his power into a 30th year. He has said that this will be his final term of office and he will finish his reign in four years' time.
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