Congo’s Jean-Pierre Bemba condemns court ruling excluding him from presidential elections

Posted at 11:26 AM, Sep 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-04 13:26:04-04

The Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba is condemning a court ruling banning him from running in the country’s presidential election.

Bemba, 55, said the December 23 vote will be a “parody of an election” without his participation.

Congo’s constitutional court upheld the electoral commission’s decision to exclude the former warlord from the polls because of a pending case at the International Criminal Court.

He is among six presidential candidates that have been excluded from the long-delayed December polls.

“The fact that one is choosing opponents… is very worrying,” Bemba told France 24 television.

Bemba joined Congo’s presidential race last month after being acquitted at the Hague of war crimes committed by the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) troops sent to the neighboring Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003 to put down a coup attempt.

The former warlord had led the MLC party before his arrest to become one of the country’s four vice presidents in 2003.

Bemba, who lost to Congo’s President Joseph Kabila in the country’s 2006 elections, returned to the country last month and announced his presidential bid after spending more than 10 years in prison.

The ex-rebel leader with a solid political base was tipped as the front-runner in the December poll — the first democratic transition of power since Kabila took office in 2001.

Kabila succeeded his father, Laurent, after his assassination in 2001 and has since maintained a strong grip over the central African nation.

However, he announced last month he would not be seeking another term and nominated his Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as his successor.