By David Owen

altSeptember 29 - An argument over who should and should not be able to attend the AIBA Congress emerged tonight as the first battleground in the struggle for power at the International Boxing Association.

Ho Kim, AIBA’s executive director, hit back at criticism of the body’s administration by Paul King, the English official who is standing against incumbent C K Wu for the AIBA Presidency, seeking to rebut King’s assertion, buttressed by legal opinion, that many national federations were subject to an "unfair" suspension imposed by AIBA.

In a letter to national member federations, Ho said that the decision "not to allow any national federation with non-payment on set deadline of membership fees…to attend the 2010 AIBA Congress was made by the AIBA executive committee" in July in Marrakech.

The committee had reached this decision "based on the AIBA statutes and bylaws" and AIBA would issue a legal interpretation by a Swiss lawyer "as soon as possible".

Ho also maintained that King, an executive committee member, was present at the meeting and did not disapprove the decision - "therefore, he is contesting what he also approved".

Ho further stressed that AIBA HQ would "maintain its professionalism and independency from any political movement related to the elections".

As reported exclusively by insidethegames, King is urging national federations to demand official invitations to the Congress - scheduled to take place on November 1 and 2 in Kazakhstan - claiming that "more than 70" have not been sent the necessary papers.

In a letter, King blamed this on "unfair suspension imposed by the AIBA administration" and quoted legal advice stating that if a suspended federation paid its dues prior to the Congress, its suspension should immediately be lifted leading to a restoration of its voting rights.

With the attendance of so many countries apparently at stake, the matter is clearly of fundamental importance for the outcome of the presidential race, which is scheduled to be decided at the Congress.

AIBA said last night that the "English law firm" which provided the analysis in King’s letter was "not given all the documents required to form a correct opinion" and emphasised that its statutes and bylaws were based on Swiss law.

It said its position on the matter remained the same: national federations which have not paid their membership fees or sent any boxers to listed events would not be allowed to attend the Congress.

It is understood that King, who has been campaigning in Bulgaria, needs to gather nominations from 20 national associations by Friday (October 1).

However, the flurry of activity has prompted speculation that the Congress - originally planned for Busan, South Korea - could be postponed.

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