War crimes suspect Jean Pierre Bemba declares DR Congo poll candidacy

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By Josephine Lukoya &Agencieslakes

Jean Piere Benba

KINSHASA — Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former Democratic Republic of Congo vice-president on trial at The Hague for war crimes, declared his candidacy yesterday in an announcement read by his party.
“My candidacy for the presidential election will be, as long as you are in agreement, one that can deliver certain victory,” Bemba said in a statement read out at his Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) party’s conference.

Bemba, who also stood as the MLC’s candidate in 2006 when he was beaten in a run-off by incumbent Joseph Kabila, said he was not deterred by his current situation.

“I can assure you that my desire to serve the Congo remains intact. Rest assured, I will not give up. I do not fear the justice of man, only God’s justice,” he said in his speech.
Bemba is charged at the world’s independent war crimes court with three counts of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity for alleged atrocities committed by some 1,500 MLC fighters between October 2002 and March 2003 in the Central African Republic.
CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse asked Bemba to bring his forces into the country to put down a coup attempt by General Francois Bozize, resulting in the charges now before the ICC.

Bemba fled the DR Congo for Portugal in 2007 after his insistence on maintaining a private militia sparked deadly clashes with Kabila’s forces.
However he was arrested in Brussels in 2008, from where he was transferred to The Hague

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