Ex- rebel DR Congo leader Jean – Pierre Bemba will head back to Europe after returning to the African country this week to launch his bid for the presidency in December ’ s long- delayed elections , a leader of his party said Saturday .
The former DRC vice president arrived in the capital Kinshasa on Wednesday after 11 years abroad — a decade of it behind bars — and on Thursday officially launched his bid to succeed long- serving President Joseph Kabila .
Bemba , 55, then arrived in the town of Gemena in his stronghold in the northwest on Saturday .
“Senator Bemba is coming back tomorrow (Sunday ) to Kinshasa and immediately leaves for Brussels , ” Jacques Djoli, a leader of Bemba ’ s MLC party, told AFP .
“His next visit to DRC is scheduled for September to take part in work in the Senate and further electoral activities, ” Djoli added.
Bemba was acquitted of war – crimes charges in June by the International Criminal Court (ICC ) in the Hague.
Now a senator, he had been in Belgium — the DRC ’ s former colonial power — since his acquittal .
Another rival of Kabila , opposition leader Moise Katumbi , is attempting to launch his own bid for the presidential election, ahead of the August 8 cut – off date for candidates to submit their applications.
Analysts say Bemba ’ s return has introduced even more uncertainty into an already volatile election process .
The DRC has never known a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence in 1960 — and some experts fear that the December 23 elections may trigger a bloody conflict .
Kabila , 47 , has been at the helm since 2001 , presiding over a vast mineral- rich country with a reputation for corruption , inequality and unrest .
He was scheduled to stand down at the end of 2016 after his second elected term , technically the last permitted under the constitution.
Kabila has refused to spell out whether he will seek a new term in the vote .
On Saturday , a pro – Kabila group said it was making “final adjustments ” before it chooses its candidate for the December 23 presidential election.