GOMA – A top official from the ruling party of President Joseph Kabila in Democratic Republic of Congo has said electoral law could render Jean-Pierre Bemba ineligible to run for President after the Senator said he would return to the country to stand as a candidate in December’s election.
Alain Atundu, who is also the spokesperson for the ruling party told this news website that Bemba could be barred from running for president by article 10 of the electoral law that stops those convicted for corruption from running for office.
Last year, Bemba was convicted by ICC for bribing witnesses but a new ruling on appeal to overturn this conviction is set though no date for the verdict is yet fixed.
Already Bemba was last month acquitted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague after he was sentenced to 18-years in prison by ICC for murder and rape committed by his rebel group in neighboring Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.
Bemba’s announcement that he would return next week to DRC and participate in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for December 23 has excited many of his supporters.
The executive secretary for Bemba’s party, Movement for the Liberation of Congo, Eva Bazaiba said everything is “in place” to enable their candidate participate in the December poll.
Without quoting any constitutional article, Atundu said, President Kabila is eligible to run again after 17 years in power following the assassination of his father in 2001.
The US has said the time for posturing has ended and Kabila must state when he will step down. Kabila is yet to say whether he will seek for a third term.
His refusal to step down in 2016 after his term ended sparked street protests in which many Congolese died, Human Rights Watch has said.
Bazaiba said on Monday that Bemba’s party nominated him as presidential candidate and would return on August 1. He urged supporters in DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa to turn up to give him “warm and peaceful welcome.”
Candidates for the December 23 presidential election must declare their bid between July 25 and August 1, according to the country’s electoral commission.