30 African countries have expressed their lack of confidence in the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit (BIIU) Nomination Unit, a sign of dissent towards IBA President Umar Kremlev.
Despite this, the African Boxing Confederation has previously supported Kremlev. However, now, 30 out of 50 member federations have rebelled due to concerns about the list of candidates for the upcoming election.
They argue that certain candidates were cleared controversially, while another candidate was excluded despite having EU sanctions lifted.
One of the candidates is Bertrand Mendouga from Cameroon, who was forced out by Kremlev in August. This situation has triggered the election.
The AFBC claim that Mendouga had to leave “due to the accusations of mismanagement and embezzlement of athletes prize money.”
They have also questioned the nominations of Uganda Boxing Federation President Moses Muhangi, who earlier this year was arrested in his home country and has been sanctioned by the AFBC Ethics Committee and fined CHF5,000 (£4,500/$5,500/€5,200).
Mohamed El Kabbouri should also be declared ineligible; they claim as he does not have the support of his National Federation.
He was born in Morocco but spent 12 years living in Ukraine until he left when the war started.
It is while living in Ukraine that it is believed he has come into the orbit of Kremlev, who is widely believed to be backing his campaign.
It is alleged that El Kabbouri has close links to Serbia’s Abdulmutalim Abakarov, appointed IBA vice-president by Kremlev.
There is also anger among the group of African countries that Ferdinand Luyoyo, President of the Congo Boxing Federation, has not been allowed to stand in the election.
Luyoyo was formerly the Democratic Republic of Congo’s police chief and responsible for the protection of institutions and high-ranking officials in the country, including then President Joseph Kabila, accused of human rights abuses.
As a result, sanctions were imposed by the EU and United Kingdom against Luyoyo.
The EU lifted the sanctions in May 2022, but he remains on the list in the UK.
The group of African countries claim that the decision to exclude Luyoyo was “a decision only based on the rumours” and that the BIIU Monitoring Unit have never contacted him to check the situation.
The BIIU was established in September 2022 by the IBA, claiming to be an independent organization. It is currently led by Swiss lawyer Bernhard Heinrich Welten, along with a Managing Board consisting of other lawyers like James Kitching from Australia, Nader Jalal Al-Awadhi from Bahrain, and Richard R Young from the United States.
Emin Özkurt, a Turkish lawyer, heads the BIIU Nomination Unit. The group of African countries expressed their concerns about the BIIU Nomination Unit, stating that it lacked professionalism and transparency. They are requesting the election to be postponed by a month and for the AFBC to be responsible for selecting approved candidates.
The approved candidates by the BIIU are Azania Omo-Agege Siena from Nigeria and Berhanu Eyassu Wossen from Ethiopia.
The 30 countries to have signed the statement are Algeria, Angola, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DR Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Togo.