By Andrew Warshaw

Issa Hayatou 29-11-12November 29 - The power struggle to determine who can and who cannot challenge for the top job in African football is being taken all the way to sport's highest court of law, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Two months ago, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) passed an amendment banning anyone from outside its inner sanctum from challenging Issa Hayatou (pictured top) of Cameroon for the Presidency.

The contentious move put paid to the aspirations of contenders wishing to unseat the long-serving Hayatou at elections in Morocco next March.

But now Hayatou, a member of the International Olympic Committee, is having his authority challenged.

The CAS has confirmed that Liberian officials have appealed to overturn the election rules, which are supposed to take effect from December 3.

The appeal is seeking interim verdicts to block the amendments until a full hearing is held.

"The [CAF] has been formally notified of the appeals and has been invited to file an answer to the requests for provisional measures," the CAS said in a statement.

Hayatou's grip on African football has been watertight ever since he took charge in 1987 but he was forced to steer through the latest controversial rule change after his FIFA Executive Committee colleague Jacques Anouma emerged as a rival.

Anouma, from Ivory Coast, and South Africa's Danny Jordaan - who led the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee – were seen as potential challengers although neither are voting members of CAF.

As a result Hayatou quickly called an extraordinary meeting of CAF's 54 member nations where an Algerian proposal was passed limiting the Presidential race to candidates who were "current or former members of the Executive Committee".

Jacques-AnoumaJacques Anouma has slammed the voting rules calling them "undemocratic"

The proposal, passed by a huge majority, is understood to have been backed by FIFA President Sepp Blatter who defeated Hayatou in the 2002 FIFA elections.

Anouma has denounced the move to extend Hayatou's command as totally unjustified.

He was backed by Ivory Coast Sports Minister Philippe Legré, who described the amendment as a "political ruse".

"In the 21st century, such an undemocratic act should not take place," said Anouma.

"I still do not understand how we could have passed an amendment that is clearly anti-democratic.

"The Executive Committee does not have the right to make themselves the only people that can contest the Presidency of CAF.

"But the pressure people were under and the other things that I have heard happened may be responsible for this."

Last year FIFA was forced to withdraw its appointment of Hayatou as chairman of the Organising Committee of the London 2012 football tournament because he was being investigated for alleged corruption by an independent Ethics Commission of the IOC.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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