Bemba likely to get diplomatic passport after acquittal by ICC

Kinshasa, Sunday

The Democratic of Republic of Congo today said former DRC vice president and warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba can apply for a diplomatic passport to return home after he was acquitted of war crimes in The Hague.

Bemba’s acquittal has added a further ingredient to the DRC’s volatile political mix, stoking speculation that he will contest the December 23 presidential elections.

But questions have remained as to whether he intends to return home and if the authorities would allow it.

Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu, in a letter, said “the honourable senator” could “send his protocol agent to our embassy in Brussels to obtain a form to apply for a diplomatic passport.”

The DRC is in the grip of a crisis over the future of President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the country since 2001 and has remained in office, despite a two-term constitutional limit that expired in December 2016.

On June 8, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC), overturned a 2016 conviction against Bemba for five counts of war crimes committed by his militia.  — AFP

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