His father was a rich businessman close to former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
Here are key dates in the life of Jean-Pierre Bemba who has returned to the DR Congo after 11 years in exile and jail, vowing to contest presidential polls in December.
- November 4, 1962: Born in Bogada in the northwest Equateur province, his father was a rich businessman close to former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
- 1997: Leaves Kinshasa when the late rebel leader Laurent Desire Kabila overthrows Mobutu.
- 1998: Founds the rebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) opposed to the Kabila regime.
- October 2002-March 2003: Sends his private militiamen to the Central African Republic to help put down a coup against then president Ange-Felix Patasse. The MLC are accused of murder, rape and looting.
- 2003: Following the end of the second Congolese war, Bemba becomes vice president in an interim government.
- 2006: Defeated by Joseph Kabila in presidential elections, scarred by political violence.
- 2007: Leaves Kinshasa, escorted by UN peacekeepers, after his forces come off worst in clashes with government troops.
- 2008: Arrested in Brussels on a warrant of the International Criminal Court issued for MLC atrocities in the Central African Republic.
- 2016: Sentenced to 18 years by ICC judges after being found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- 2017: Sentenced to one year in jail and fined 300,000 euros ($350,000) for bribing witnesses during the trial.
- June 8, 2018: In a surprise decision, he is acquitted on appeal on the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. On June 12, the ICC orders his interim release.
- August 1, 2018: He returns to Kinshasa.