After spending a decade in prison at the Hague, opposition figure Jean-Pierre Bemba returns home to Kinshasa on Wednesday to put up a presidential race, challenging President Joseph Kabila or his handpicked successor in an election billed for December.
Bemba, landed at N’djili airport, Kinshasa to a cheering crowd of supporters wearing T-shirts, scarves, hats and robes with images of the warlord who only last May, has his conviction of war crimes squashed on appeal by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The former vice-president is widely expected to energize the Opposition movement in the DR Congo against the Kabila dynasty. Though barred by Constitutional term limits from seeking a new term, Kabila until now has not made any public commitment by announcing his intent not to run but that doesn’t stop his detractors from building up a stiff challenge against him.
On Monday, Bemba’s MLC party announced they had permission to land in Kinshasa but clashed with the authorities on the route he would take when he arrived.
Party officials had made arrangements for Bemba to visit provincial headquarters as well as the national headquarters of the MLC. He shall be lodging at a private residence in Gombe town. Security services had decided there shall be no stopovers.
At the Lumumba Boulevard, there has been reinforcement of security, heavy deployment of armed police officers with patrol cars all over the city prior to Bemba’s arrival.
BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst