Congo’s Bemba arrives in, prepares to Challenge Kabila

Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba arrives in Kinshasa on Wednesday to submit his presidential candidacy after a decade in prison in The Hague.

The president of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) has declared his intention to run for president, shaking up Congolese politics ahead of a long-delayed election in the Central African mineral-rich nation.

Bemba, who was sentenced in 2016 to 18 years in prison, has maintained his innocence. He still awaits a final sentencing at the ICC in another case in which he was convicted of interfering with witnesses.

Bemba said he wants Congo’s opposition to rally around a single challenger to Kabila and vowed to give all his support to that challenger.

Millionaire businessman Moise Katumbi, a former governor of the country’s copper-producing region, is also expected to return from a two-year exile on Friday.

International pressure on Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father in 2001, to leave office has grown since a November 2016 election was postponed. The United States and France as well as other countries including neighboring Angola have expressed fears that a Kabila candidacy could plunge the country into chaos.

Kabila is barred by term limits from standing for a fresh term in the election but has yet to publicly commit to step down. The deadline to declare candidacies is Aug. 8.

About Geraldine Boechat 2680 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia