Congolese Politician, Bemba Makes Case In Presidential Vote

Former Congolese warlord and vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba said on Tuesday that he believed he would be the best candidate to represent the opposition in December’s presidential election but that he was open to supporting another candidate.

In his first in-depth public remarks since being acquitted in May on appeal for war crimes at The Hague, Bemba told a news conference in Brussels that standing for president was not an obsession but touted his experience and leadership qualities.

Candidate registration is due to open on Wednesday. President Joseph Kabila, who has governed since 2001, is barred by term limits from running but has refused to commit publicly to not standing.

That and rising militia violence in Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern borderlands have raised fears the country could be dragged back to the civil wars of the turn of the century that killed millions, mostly from hunger and disease.

Kabila’s opponents have struggled to coalesce behind a single standard bearer for the election and Bemba’s release from prison and planned a return to Congo next week have further muddied the waters.

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