Former DR Congo VP Jean-Pierre Bemba hints at running for presidency

Jean-Pierre Bemba
Jean-Pierre Bemba

Former Democratic Republic of Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba says while he believes he is the best candidate to represent the opposition in December’s presidential election, he is ready to support another candidate.

This is Bemba’s first public remark since he was acquitted in May on appeal for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Speaking in Brussels, Bemba told a news conference that running for president was not an obsession but touted his experience and leadership qualities.

“It is not an obsession. It is so that we, the opposition, can win and do everything so that a candidate from the opposition can win by presenting a programme that is credible for the population,” he said.

Candidate registration for the 23 December election is due to open on Wednesday.

There is still no clarity on whether President Joseph Kabila will refrain from standing for another term. He is barred by the constitution after serving two terms.

The DR Congo was due to hold its presidential vote in November 2016, but the electoral body said it was unable to conduct the poll due to logistical challenges. That meant Kabila stayed on as president.

Opposition figures claimed the president frustrated the electoral process to enable him cling on to power, allegations he denied.

Bemba is expected to arrive in Kinshasa on 1 August, and he says he will meet other opposition leaders upon arrival.