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Operations at Athletics Kenya grounded as feud bites

05 September 2013, 11:44

Nairobi -  The leadership dispute at Athletics Kenya (AK) escalated on Wednesday when majority of the elected officials boycotted a consultative meeting convened by long-serving president, Isaiah Kiplagat with functions at the federation crippled as a result of the stalemate.

In the face of the sternest dissent to his 21-year-old tenure at the head of the organization, Kiplagat, a world governing body IAAF Council Member, appealed for consensus to salvage operations at AK that are almost coming to a complete stop.

"The Treasurer of this federation has run away, we are in a limbo, we cannot operate because he has gone away with everything, the cheque books, everything.

"The vice-president, who is in charge of competition, is also gone and we are preparing for the program for next season. We must remain steadfast; we cannot go the way of other federations," Kiplagat said on Wednesday following the botched meeting.

He was alluding to the inability of the organization to function with two of his co-signatories to the federation coffers, deputy president in charge of competition and administration, David Okeyo and Treasurer, David Miano, breaking ranks with their boss to join the camp that is opposed to his administration.

Staff at AK headquarters in Nairobi including two high ranking officials whose hiring to run core functions at the federation are among the causes for the rebellion are not sure where their August salaries will come from.

"We have been told that things will have been cleared by the end of the month when we asked about the matter this morning," an employee who sough anonymity told Xinhua.

Also affected is the issuance of clearance letters to athletes to compete abroad as well as administrative correspondence from race organizers, agents and runners with funds to process paperwork drying up.

Billed as one of the richest sports governing body in the country, AK has been rocked by a leadership row that started on August 23 when officials drawn from the National Executive Committee (NEC) and 14 out of 16 affiliate branches called for a Special General Meeting (SGM) upon the expiry of a two-week notice.

"Let me make it very clear, we are not objecting to any Special General Meeting (SGM). We want to follow the process. If anybody wants the SGM, if they follow what the constitution says, we shall convene it tomorrow," Kiplagat told the press in Nairobi.

He added: "We do not want to bring this institution to ridicule. We have built it from zero and personally, I can pride myself that during my time, we have done what we have done."

The purpose of the SGM is to discuss the new AK constitution, appointment of technocrats to take over administrative duties at the federation previously held by elected officials and a vote of no confidence on Kiplagat.

Installment of the new CEO, Isaac Mwangi as well as the Marketing and Communications Manager, Simon Wekesa in addition to the proposed hiring of a financial officer has placed Kiplagat and a majority of the NEC members at loggerheads.

In a statement signed by 21 NEC and branch officials who met in the town of Nakuru on Wednesday, Kiplagat's detractors declared they would not relent in their push to press for the SGM.

"The AK affiliates will meet at the expiry of the demand notice on Sept. 13 to fix the date for the SGM, if the AK president refuses to heed the demands of the affiliates who elected him to office.

"The agenda of the SGM remains the same as given in the demand notice which was issued on Aug. 23, to discuss the AK constitution. The affiliates will inform the government of the ongoing in the AK leadership," the statement read.

Pointedly, it was signed by Okeyo and Miano, two NEC members who are signatories to AK accounts, meaning the federation cannot meet its financial obligations to its staff, suppliers and creditors until the impasse is resolved.

"We are giving them seven days for them to give us what they want. If we set a precedent and allow the law of the jungle to take place, the following day, another group will say we want to remove those who will be there, so it will be a chain reaction," the besieged federation chief said. 



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