Former DR Congo warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba Tuesday denounced a long-delayed December presidential election as a “parody” after the country’s top court banned him from contesting.
Bemba was one of six presidential hopefuls who was excluded by the election commission from the December 23 vote.
He had appealed the decision but the Constitutional Court late Monday upheld the ban saying he was excluded for his conviction by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for bribing witnesses at his war crimes trial.
“The fact that one is choosing opponents... is very worrying,” Bemba told France 24 television, adding that the restive nation would witness “a parody of an election.”
The former Belgian colony has not seen a peaceful transition of power since 1960. President Joseph Kabila, who has held office since 2001, has finally said he will not run again after keeping silent on the issue for months and fuelling tension and deadly unrest in the volatile nation. Kabila’s second and final term ended two years ago.
Some experts fear the country could spiral into bloodshed. Bemba had declared his candidacy after making a triumphant return home from Belgium, with tens of thousands of supporters turning out to greet him after the ICC based in The Hague acquitted him of war crimes charges.