Ex-rebel DR Congo leader Jean-Pierre Bemba on Thursday officially launched his bid for the country’s presidency, putting forward his candidacy for the long-delayed election in December.
Another rival of long-serving President Joseph Kabila, opposition leader Moise Katumbi, was however barred from entering the country after saying he planned to return Friday to contest the election.
Bemba filed his papers at the electoral commission offices in the capital Kinshasa, throwing down the gauntlet to Kabila, who has ruled for 17 years.
“I can confirm that I indeed had a voting card and I filed all the papers,” Bemba said outside the electoral commission headquarters.
“Now it is up to the CENI (the national election board) to handle all the applications. For me, I have submitted the entire file, it is in order,” he added.
Bemba was accompanied by his wife and members of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), a former rebel group turned political party that Bemba founded.
The 55-year-old, also a former DRC vice president, only arrived back in the country on Wednesday after 11 years abroad — a decade of it behind bars.
He was greeted by large crowds of cheering supporters, many of them chanting anti-Kabila slogans.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague acquitted Bemba of war-crimes charges in June.