Confederation of African Football chief Ahmad Ahmad said Tuesday there was no chance of troubled 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon being relieved of the tournament during a surprise visit to the country.
The Madagascan visited President Paul Biya, whose government is working to convince CAF it will be ready to host the continental festival of football despite doubts over the readiness and capacity of its stadiums.
“CAF has no plan B, nor have we ever considered taking the Cup of African nations away from Cameroon,” Ahmad told journalists as he left a meeting with Biya.
“It’s Cameroon who are hosting this competition, so it’s for them to tell us ‘we’re ready’, or ‘we need more time, we’re not ready’ – it’s down to Cameroon.”
Ahmad’s visit apparently delayed a planned election campaign visit by Biya to the town of Buea, which has been on the frontline of separatist violence by English-speaking fighters.
Officials had earlier suggested that he could travel to the southwestern town as soon as Tuesday, but a presidency source said the trip was “unconfirmed”.
Separatists and soldiers engage in daily clashes in the anglophone northwest and southwest regions, and security has been a major campaign issue ahead of Sunday’s presidential polls.
Members of the nascent insurgency have threatened to disrupt the elections.
Towns in the anglophone regions were subject to a curfew ahead of the first anniversary of the separatists’ symbolic declaration of independence on Monday.
On Sunday eight candidates will face off against Biya, 85, who is seeking a seventh term in power.