Bemba to return to DRC Aug 1 ahead of polls

2018-07-24 09:44
 Former Congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. (File, AFP)

Former Congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Former Democratic Republic of Congo vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, acquitted last month of war crimes, will return to the country on August 1 ahead of end-year elections, his party announced on Monday.

"The Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) has the signal honour to announce that it has pleased our lord God, after 10 years away, to allow the return of Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba Gomba to his country of birth, the land of his ancestors, the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, August 1," the party said in a statement.

"The MLC invites the Congolese people, especially the Kinois (Kinshasa inhabitants) to give him a warm, peaceful and enthusiastic welcome," it added.

The MLC on Friday named Bemba its candidate for planned December 23 presidential polls after the government said he could apply for a diplomatic passport to return home after he was acquitted of war crimes in The Hague.

The DRC is in the grip of a crisis over the future of President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the country since 2001 and has remained in office despite a two-term constitutional limit that expired in December 2016.

He claims he can do this under a clause in the constitution that enables a president to stay in office until a successor is elected.

In June, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague overturned a 2016 conviction against Bemba on five counts of war crimes committed by his militia in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

The court said he could not be held criminally liable for atrocities the militiamen committed, which included murder, rape and looting, as he was unable to influence their conduct.

He had previously been given an 18-year term, the longest ever to be handed down by the ICC.

Bemba was earlier this week known to be in Belgium having gained an interim release from the court.

The ICC is due to issue a ruling in a separate case in which Bemba was sentenced to jail and fined $350 000 in 2017 for bribing witnesses during his main war crimes trial.

However, he has already spent a decade behind bars, and legal experts expect him to be released definitively if this time is taken into account.

It remains unclear whether he faces any threat of prosecution if he sets foot on DRC soil, after authorities issued a warrant in 2007 against him over the violence and for alleged arson at the Supreme Court.

Kabila, who took over from his assassinated father in 2001, presides over the vast central African nation with a history of corruption, poor governance and armed conflict.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  joseph ­kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.