‘Ex-DR Congo warlord can’t run for president’

 Jean-Pierre Bemba

Jean-Pierre Bemba

Former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba cannot run to be the next president of the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC), the country’s Electoral Commission said.

Mr Bemba was one of six would-be candidates deemed ineligible following hours of deliberation.

The ex-rebel leader had a war crimes conviction overturned in June.

However, the commission said Mr Bemba was excluded because of his conviction by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for bribing witnesses.

Mr Bemba, who returned to the DR Congo at the start of August after 11 years spent in exile or prison, is currently appealing against the ICC conviction.

This year’s election is meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, whose second and final term in office ended two years ago.

The governing coalition has nominated former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary to be its candidate.

A total of 25 people put their names forward, including former prime ministers Antoine Gizenga and Adolphe Muzito – both of whom were deemed ineligible to run.

Opposition parties condemned the electoral commission’s decision before it was even announced, accusing “the current regime” of trying “to suppress the electoral process”.

Those excluded, including Mr Bemba, who is one of President Kabila’s most feared rivals, can appeal against the decision.

The final list of candidates is scheduled to be published in September.

 

A well-connected businessman and the son of prominent Congolese businessman Bemba Saolona, in 1998 Mr Bemba was helped by Uganda to form MLC rebel group in DRC and in2003 became vice-president under a peace deal.

 

In 2006 Mr Bemba lost a run-off election to President Kabila but got most votes in western DR Congo, including Kinshasa, in2007 he fled to Belgium after clashes in Kinshasa and in 2008 he was arrested in Brussels and handed over to the ICC.

 

In 2010 the trial began and was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and his conviction was overturned on appeal in 2018. -BBC

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