The acquittance of the former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes against humanity, could alter the political equation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While Jean-Pierre Bemba’s supporters have backed his presidential ambition in elections due this December, President Joseph Kabila’s camp is more or less, in political hypertension.
The landmark conviction of Jean-Pierre Bemba, which was overturned by panels of judges at the ICC came as a huge surprise to many. It may have definitely rattled President Kabila, who has refused to leave office two years after his second and final term in office ended. President Kabila’s government has insisted that Mr. Bemba is ineligible to contest for the Presidential election due to his former corruption conviction. Jean-Pierre Bemba has vowed to challenge the alleged ineligibility in court.
Asked what he would do if he fails to win the Presidential elections, Mr. Bemba assured that he would respect the result and would not take up arms as he did before, as far as the election was transparent. The former vice-president, emphasized equally, his willingness to hold talks with President Kabila aimed at finding a lasting solution to the political deadlock in the country.
After a decade in jail, Jean-Pierre Bemba is preparing for his triumphant return to the Democratic Republic of Congo this week from Belgium. With the acquittance of all the charges against him, would his return herald a new era in the DRC? More than that, would his freedom land him to the Presidential lodge in Zaire? Time will tell.