Jean-Pierre Bemba has been banned from running in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election later this year by the country’s electoral commission. Bemba, a former vice president, was considered one of the top opposition contenders since returning to the country in August after he was acquitted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, an appeal in another case about interfering with witnesses is still pending. The electoral commission called that synonymous with corruption – DRC law prevents people convicted of corruption from running for president. The announcement came late on Friday as the electoral commission issued a list of eligible candidates for the long-delayed December 23 polls. Bemba can appeal the decision and the final list of candidates is expected next month.
“His team is likely to go through the motions to at least try to launch that appeal, but it is extremely unlikely that this will result in anything productive from [their] viewpoint,” Harry Verhoeven, a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar, told Al Jazeera.
“What it is most likely to happen is that Bemba and his supporters will take to the streets, and will seek to find other ways to shape these elections – perhaps even to boycott it – and of course to try to appeal for international support,” he added.