War crimes suspect won't run in DRC poll
Kinshasa - Former Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is held in The Hague on war crimes charges, will not contend the November 28 presidential election, his party said Thursday.
"We do not have the authorisation from the ICC," (International Criminal Court) for Bemba to leave jail and file his candidacy with the Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral body, his Congo Liberation Movement (MLC) said.
MLC secretary general Thomas Luhaka also argued that the DRC opposition needs to agree on a single candidate if it is to stand any chance of defeating incumbent President Joseph Kabila, who beat Bemba in a 2006 run-off.
The 48-year-old Bemba had declared from The Hague in late July that he intended to run in the election.
"My candidacy for the presidential election will be, as long as you are in agreement, one that can deliver certain victory," he had said in a statement.
Bemba is charged with three counts of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity for alleged atrocities committed by about 1 500 MLC fighters between October 2002 and March 2003 in the Central African Republic.
Candidates have until September 11 to formally file their papers with the polling commission.
Although Kabila has not yet made his reelection bid official, his candidacy is not in doubt and his campaign posters have already been plastered all over Kinshasa.
Among those who have already declared their intention to challenge him are Union for Democracy and Social Progress leader Etienne Tshisekedi and Nzanga Mobutu, former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko's son.
Nzanga Mobutu is married to one of Bemba's sisters.