The Ivorian, the longest serving ANOCA president, opted not to seek re-election after turbulent recent times for the Abuja based association.
The 77-year-old barely served a year into his fourth term, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that ANOCA must hold fresh elections.
This was after Cameroon’s Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, his only challenger at the elections in May 2017 in Djibouti, was controversially blocked from contesting the elections the ANOCA executive committee over alleged bribery and inappropriate campaign.
But CAS upheld the appeal Kalkaba and directed that fresh polls must be held.
The four players
Kalkaba is one of the four vying to replace Palenfo at the elections in Tokyo, being held on the side-lines of a tense ANOC general assembly in Tokyo.
The others are Algeria’s Mustapha Berraf, Botswana’s Negroes Malealea Kgosietsile and Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera.
Respect, rebuild, united, vibrant are some of the words that have peppered the campaigns of the quartet.
But the first task for the new president will be to oversee and revamp the All African games that will be held in Morocco, a step-in host. Zambia had been earmarked as organisers of the 2019 event but claimed they were not ready due to a lack of facilities.
Here is a look at the four players in their countries ascending order:
Algeria: Berraf wants a more efficient and respected ANOCA
Berraf, has been the ‘acting president’ since last November in Prague, when Palenfo was relieved of his operational duties. The Algerian was elected vice president of ANOCA in 2005 in Accra.
It is this experience that the Berraf, who is also serving his fourth term as president of the Algerian Olympic Committee, hopes he can bank on to succeed his former boss. If he is elected he will be the first North African to lead ANOCA.
All the five previous presidents have been from central, east and west Africa.
He led and hosted the Africa Youth Games in Algiers this year, a platform he used to endear himself to the members.
His biggest selling point has been marketing the association, its activities and providing resources for its members.
“We intend to perpetuate the initiatives we have undertaken providing our organization with the necessary financial and material resources for the African Youth Games in Lesotho, Beach Games in Cape Verde and the African Games in Morocco,” underlined the 63-year-old basketball star who has had a fair share of controversy back home.
His stint as NOC president was tainted a corruption scandal as a director of a publicly managed shopping centre in the 90s.
He hopes to use his management experience to transform ANOCA.
“We will also focus on professionalizing the management of ANOCA’s products and assets, as well as the introduction of new marketable products and programs.”
Negroes the ‘competent, selfless and tested’ leader ANOCA needs
The Batswana was the last one to formally declare his intention to contest.
The former NOC president considers himself as the change candidate ANOCA needs after a rather dull five years. In his 16-year terms as the NOC president he oversaw the 2014 Africa Youth Games, an event that boosted the Southern African country’s profile.
This influenced his country’s decision to bid for the 2022 Youth Olympic Games that was last month awarded to Senegal.
Negroes ventured into sport after a career in finance, skills he is banking on to professionalise the operations of ANOCA.
“It is of critical importance for the ANOCA Electorate to assign a competent, selfless and tested leader to catapult the organization to its rightful place,” said Negroes who serves on the ANOCA Executive committee.
Despite not having any continental know-how he feels there is need to fix the association’s operations and review the constitution.
“The conduct of our meetings has in the past tended to deprive the General Assembly of its powers to debate matters and make informed decisions. “ANOCA Solidarity funds are still managed Olympic Solidarity, an indication that ANOCA is not in a position to manage its share of Solidarity funds,” added the head of the Confederation of Southern African National Olympic Committee.
Governance, inclusion at the heart of Nsekera’s campaign
The ascendance of the former basketballer and high jumper will make her the woman to head an Olympic continental section.
The 51-year-old is no stranger to firsts. She was the first woman to hold a seat on FIFA’s Executive Committee, and the first woman to head the Burundian football association and the NOC.
Nsekera who began her professional career as an auditor is one of the thirteen African IOC members, a position she hopes to leverage on and make history.
The renowned female sports administrator has put youth and women’s issues on the front burner of her campaign.
“Africa is undeniably the continent with the largest number of young people. It is our responsibility as sports leaders to support our girls and boys and help them grow up healthy,” said the Burundian, who hopes to take back the presidency to zone five.
The late Francis Nyangweso from neighbouring Ugandan headed the association between 1999-2001.
Nsekera, who also chairs the IOC women and sport commission, has Tokyo 2020 Olympics high on her agenda.
“Top priority will be given to the preparation and planning of Africa’s participation (at Tokyo 2020) creating small committees whose task will be to propose the most effective way to facilitate the smooth preparation and participation.”
Kalkaba, tried and tested
The IAAF vice president, who also heads the Confederation of African Athletics, was the trigger of change.
Kalkaba challenged Palenfo again, in what was expected to be a close election but missed out on what would have been his second appearance on the ANOCA presidential ballot.
The former Cameroonian track and field athlete was lurking in Palenfo’s shadow in the 2005 elections.
Palenfo replaced Guinea’s Alpha Ibrahim Diallo as ANOCA president after polling 24 of the 51 votes against Alhaji Dandeh-Njie of Gambia, who garnered 16 votes but decided not to contest the run off.
During that election in Ghana, Kalkaba was one of the three contenders, who withdrew from the race. The others were Zoumaro Gnofame from Togo and Guinea’s Diallo.
The veteran sports administrator, who is the president of the NOC, has in the past headed handball and athletics federations, all-round proficiencies that he feels proves he is capable of transforming ANOCA.
“I hope to urge the African Union and African countries to enact laws that will guarantee the status of high-level athletes and their future reconversion through an appropriate social reintegration,” outlined the former musician, who hopes the NOCs can dance to his tune as he looks to write the last chapter of his sports career.
Rebuilding trust and attracting partners are among the key pillars of his campaign, goals that remain slippery for CAA. “Increase the financial resources of the Development Zones, to better coordinate the activities of the NOCs,” said Kalkaba.