DRC's Jean-Pierre Bemba in key dates

His father was a rich businessman close to former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Former vice-president of Democratic Republic of Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba addresses media representatives during a press conference in Brussels on July 24, 2018. PHOTO | JOHN THYS | AFP 

IN SUMMARY

  • Bemba founded the rebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) opposed to the Kabila regime.
  • Following the end of the second Congolese war, Bemba becomes vice president in an interim government.

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KINSHASA

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.

VICE PRESIDENT

- 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.

ACQUITTED

- 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.

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