In the Democratic Republic of Congo, supporters of former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba are demanding he be allowed on the ballot for the December 23 presidential election. Congo’s electoral commission disqualified Bemba because of his 2016 conviction by the International Criminal Court. The court said Bemba was responsible for war crimes committed by his militia in the Central African Republic. But in June, the court overturned the conviction and released Bemba from prison. His party, the Movement of the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), argues that the ICC case is finished and Bemba should be allowed on the ballot.
Political commentator Delphin Kapaya says the way the court handles the case will determine the reaction of Bemba’s supporters. “There can be a problem because he enjoys a lot of support,” Kapaya said. “If he is disqualified and it’s seen he has been barred in accordance with the law, then there will be calm. But if it’s seen that he is disqualified because of politics, then his party and his supporters will not accept that. Then that will be the beginning of troubles.”
Congo’s highest court is expected to issue a ruling on Bemba’s candidacy on September 19.
Researcher and political analyst Ntanyoma Rukumbuzi says the court’s decision will impact the next president, regardless of who is elected. “The Constitutional Court may still overrule the electoral decision, but in case he doesn’t run [because] the Constitutional Court considers him as not qualified, it affects the legitimacy at some point,” Rukumbuzi said.
Full Article: Decision on Bemba Ballot Push Could Affect Congo’s Election.