DRC says it will give Bemba diplomatic passport to return

2018-06-23 21:00
Jean-Pierre Bemba (File: AFP)

Jean-Pierre Bemba (File: AFP)

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

Democratic Republic of Congo's government says it will give former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, recently acquitted on appeal at the International Criminal Court of war crimes, a diplomatic passport to allow him to return to the country.

Bemba's return likely would shake up DRC's political landscape as the long-delayed presidential election approaches in December. He remains a senator in DRC, and the general secretary of his Movement for the Liberation of Congo opposition party has said he should participate in the party congress early next month.

A letter from DRC's foreign affairs minister, Leonard She Okitundu, to the Senate speaker asks him to tell Bemba's protocol officer to submit an application for a diplomatic passport to Congo's embassy in Brussels. A copy of the letter was seen by The Associated Press.

ICC judges earlier this month ordered Bemba's interim release, days after he was acquitted on appeal of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His 18-year sentence was overturned.

Bemba had been found guilty in 2016 as a military commander of crimes against humanity and war crimes for a campaign of murder, rape and pillaging by his MLC troops in Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

The reversal on appeal delivered a serious setback to ICC prosecutors by scrapping all the convictions in the court's first trial to focus largely on sexual violence and on command responsibility — the legal principle that a commanding officer can be held responsible for crimes committed by his or her troops or for failing to prevent or punish the crimes.

Bemba is still is awaiting a final sentencing at the ICC in another case in which he was convicted of interfering with witnesses. A hearing is set for July 4.

Congo is under pressure to ensure a fair election in December amid concerns that President Joseph Kabila, in office since 2001, will try to run again or hold on to power. He has remained after his mandate ended in late 2016, with officials blaming the delay in part on the difficulties of preparing for an election in the vast nation of more than 40 million registered voters.

While Kabila cannot legally stand for a third term, opposition parties worry that he will anyway. Already the election delays have been met with deadly protests.

The United States is among a number of Western countries that have expressed concern.


Read more on:    jean-pierre bemba  |  drc  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

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.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

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.