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Congo Opposition Celebrates Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Release as Uncertainty Grows Over DRC Polls

The opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo has welcomed the release of former presidential contestant Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Bemba is also a former vice-president of DRC.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday overturned the war crimes conviction of Jean-Pierre Bemba on appeal.

ICC Judge Christine Van den Wijngaert said Bemba could not be held responsible for atrocities carried out by troops under his control in the neighbouring Central African Republic, and that trial judges had failed to consider the efforts he made to stop crimes once he became aware of them.

Bemba was sentenced to 18 years in prison in June 2016 for alleged crimes, including murder and rape, in what was described as a landmark ruling after a five-year trial.

Judges in the earlier trial said Bemba had failed to stop a series of “sadistic and cruel” rapes and murders by his militia, known as the MLC.

Popular opposition leader Moise Katumbi has welcomed the release of Bemba.

“Congratulations to my compatriot JP Bemba. His acquittal shows that the truth always ends in triumph.

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“To those who still use false trials, this decision marks the beginning of a new era of justice for the #RDC.
“Today is a great day for the Congolese!”

Katumbi, who has put his name forward for the DRC presidency, has been convicted in absentia on politically motivated charges.
Felix Tshisekedi was also full of joy.

Tshisekedi, leader of the oldest opposition party founded by his late father, said, “I learn with joy and relief, the abandonment of the charges that weighed on JP Bemba. My first thoughts go out to his family and supporters. His return to the Congolese political scene will undoubtedly be a considerable reinforcement for the alternation camp. Glory to God.”

Experts believe Bemba’s release may add a new dimension to the politics in the DRC.

President Joseph Kabila is delaying paving way for a democratic and free election as tension rise in Congo.

President Kabila is constitutionally barred from seeking another term in office after serving his two terms plus one which was a transition.

However, Kabila is pulling background strings to continue in office despite signing an agreement with the opposition and the church not to seek another term.

President Kabila’s term expired in 2016.

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Written by How Africa

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