Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC)
The Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), led by businessman Jean-Pierre Bemba, aimed to overthrow the Kabila government of Congo [Zaire]. Supported by Uganda, it was at odds with Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD)-Goma. The group was particularly active in the Equateur region, where Bemba was based at Lisala. The MLC contained the most militarily organized force of the Congolese forces fighting in the War. Jean Pierre Bemba had access to gold, diamonds, timber and precious stones.
In 2002, Bemba's Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC--Mouvement de liberation du Congo) was asked by then President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic to help put down a coup attempt. But once that was achieved, the one thousand strong MLC force was accused of installing a reign of terror.
After Congo's civil war, Bemba's MLC group became a political party. Jean-Pierre Bemba, the millionaire businessman, and rebel leader of the Ugandan-backed Movement for the Liberation of Congo (or MLC) came to the capital from his stronghold in the northwest of the country. The leader of the second biggest rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo arrived in Kinshasa in July 2003 to be sworn in as part of a new transitional government that was meant to end over four years of war. Two of the vice presidents will be the leaders of the two largest rebel groups - the Movement for the Liberation of Congo and the Rally for Congolese Democracy - and the other two, who have already been chosen, are from the government and the civilian opposition.
In 2006 President Kabila defeated Jean-Pierre Bemba, head of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo in the second round of voting for President. After his 2006 election victory, Mr. Kabila's security forces fought gunbattles in Kinshasa with forces of the president's election rival, Jean-Pierre Bemba, and hundreds of people died.
Kengo wa Dondo's election as Senate president offered a threat to Bemba's claim as most prominent opposition politician, and perhaps Bemba is aware that even some of his supposed most prominent party allies privately indicate that they would not be unhappy if Bemba did not return to Kinshasa soon. Bluster and threats are characteristic of Bemba's style. Senator and former DRC Transitional Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba would not be returning to Kinshasa in the near future. Bemba intended to remain in Portugal until his "security arrangements" are guaranteed by the GDRC. Bemba left the temporary sanctuary of the South African Embassy compound in Kinshasa 11 April 2007 after his militia forces were effectively routed by government troops during fighting 22-23 March 2007. He went to Portugal for follow-up medical treatment for a leg injury suffered in December 2006. There was little interest among Kabila supporters to facilitate Bemba's return to the DRC.
Bemba had always been obsessed with his personal security, which he often cited to justify his past 500 ) 600 man personal security force in Kinshasa. MONUC was committed during the Transition to providing protective services for the DRC's Transition Vice Presidents as a result of the agreements reached to produce the 2003 Sun City Accord. These duties, however, consumed substantial MONUC resources, and MONUC felt that such protective duties properly belong to DRC police or other services in the post-election period.
Bemba was arrested in Belgium in May 2008 for war crimes he allegedly committed in the Central African Republic. The International Criminal Court says his forces carried out a series of rapes and murders in the CAR between October 2002 and March 2003. Bemba faced four counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity. His arrest is the first stemming from an investigation opened by ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo a year earler.
The International Criminal Court agreed in October 2010 to pursue the war crimes trial of Congo's former Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba. Fadi El Abdallah is an officer at the International Criminal Court. "The outcome of today's judgment is that the case against Mr. Bemba is admissible indeed, and the trial can continue," he said.
Equateur is indeed a very different province. It epitomizes the widespread discontent in western provinces that the East receives disproportionate international and national attention because of armed conflict in the Kivus. The province was a "victim" because it was viewed as the epicenter of national opposition to the Kabila regime. Equateur, a marginalized province even within the DRC context, faces underdevelopment and lack of capacity in all sectors. Poverty, lack of infrastructure and adequate health care, insecurity, and sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) are all tremendous problems in the province. MONUC claimed in 2009 that there were only two employees in the provincial administration who knew how to use a computer. Because international environmental organizations had managed to designate several large areas in Equateur as protected parks, many local residents could not continue their subsistence lifestyle of hunting and fishing.
A local fishing dispute in the western province of Equateur in late 2009 spiraled into an armed conflict, provoking refugee and IDP flows. Although the situation is now stabilized, it is a reminder of how weak, or even non-existent, state authority is throughout the DRC. The various conflicts have exacerbated an already bad human rights situation, including rampant sexual- and gender-based violence.
In July 2011 the Democratic Republic of Congo's main opposition party has named Jean Pierre-Bemba, who is on trial for war crimes at The Hague, as it presidential candidate. The Movement for the Liberation of Congo announced its decision after a party meeting. It was not immediately clear how Bemba could campaign or serve from his ICC jail cell. The Movement for the Liberation of Congo, in contrast to the radical approach of the UDPS, represented a responsible form of opposition. From another perspective, the MLC was undemocratic for dismissing other opposition points of view. The MLC is inhibited by ties to Bemba, thus preventing the MLC from uniting with other opposition parties to challenge the AMP.
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