Bemba condemns Constitutional Court ruling
Publish date: 10 September 2018
Issue Number: 790
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Former DRC warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba has denounced a long-delayed December presidential election as a ‘parody’ after he was banned from contesting it and he has accused President Joseph Kabila of trying to hand pick a successor by eliminating serious rivals. Bemba was one of six presidential hopefuls who was excluded by the election commission from the 23 December vote. As previously reported in Legalbrief Today, he appealed the decision but the Constitutional Court on Monday last week upheld the ban due to 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. The Constitutional Court follows the government's orders ... all this is to ensure that the government's candidate does not have a serious challenger,’ Bemba said. He added that the restive nation would witness ‘a parody of an election’. A report on the News24 site notes that a sharply divided five-judge ICC bench in June overturned Bemba's 2016 conviction and 18-year jail term for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his troops in the neighbouring CAR in 2003. However, Bemba and five co-accused were convicted on appeal of bribery, corruption and coaching 14 defence witnesses in his main trial.