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Inside DRC

DRC opposition party endorses Bemba as presidential candidate

Jean Pierre Bemba with President Kabila

The Movement for the Liberation of Congo has nominated Jean Pierre Bemba as their presidential candidate, adding more uncertainty to the already-tense upcoming elections.

An opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo has endorsed former Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba as their presidential candidate, despite the fact that he may not even be eligible to run.

Bemba’s 18-year sentence for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court was recently overturned by appeal judges.

His participation in the election as the Movement for the Liberation of Congo’s candidate hinges on another case of witness tampering that is yet to be determined by the court.

Bemba had been given an 18-year prison sentence for murders and rapes committed in 2002 and 2003 in the neighboring Central African Republic by fighters from the Congolese rebel group he then led, which was later transformed into his political party.

Witness Tampering

He is still in Belgium, awaiting the conclusion of hearings over a second conviction for witness tampering, and it is not yet clear if he will return to Congo before Aug. 8, the deadline for filing candidacies for the election.

Bemba was defeated in the 2006 presidential election by Kabila. He fled the country in 2007 after clashes between troops loyal to him and Kabila, before being arrested in Belgium the following year.

The sitting president is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term but Kabila’s refusal to say who’ll be the candidate for his ruling coalition is spurring speculation he’ll try to change or reinterpret the constitution to run again, or delay the vote.

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