Congo Opposition Leader Bemba disqualified from December elections

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo/AJ

The Constitutional Court of the Democratic People’s Republic of Congo by law excluded the leader of Congo’s opposition – Jean-Pierre Bemba, from participating in the December Presidential Elections of the country because of witness tampering convictions at the International Criminal Court.

Bemba’s exclusion from the competition is predicted to spark a violent reaction from his supporters considering he was popular as Vice President when he was in office previously. He was also expected to be one of the key persons to replace the outgoing Joseph Kabila. Kabila’s victory over Bemba sparked off violence in the capital city of Kinshasa between his supporters and state troops. Bemba consequently spent a decade in prison in The Hague before his war crime convictions were quashed in May. These convictions were in light of the murders and rape his militia had committed in the Central African Republic.

The constitutional court made a statement on national television announcing the disqualification of Bemba from the election competition as they ruled witness tampering amounts to corruption as laid down in the country’s electoral laws. Other than Bemba, opposition leader Moise Katumbi was banned from entering Congo last month to register his candidacy after being in exile for almost two years.

Having a controversial past himself, Kabila publicly announced that his party had no motivations to influence the election or encourage the disqualification of opposition leaders from contesting elections. The constitutional court further confirmed the disqualification of Adolphe Muzito, who is a former prime minister from candidature but clarified the reinstating of another former Prime Minister Samy Badibanga.

 

*Rayan Bhattacharya is a Research Intern at The Kootneeti

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