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Jean-Pierre Bemba's supporters await his return home

But Kabila has refused to commit publicly to not contesting the election.

Reuters Last Updated at 01 Aug 2018, 13:08 IST Congo

Supporters of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba gathered in the streets of the capital Kinshasa on Wednesday ahead of his return home to run for president after a decade in prison in The Hague.

Bemba, whose war crimes conviction at the International Criminal Court (ICC) was quashed on appeal in May, tweeted a photo of himself boarding his private jet early on Wednesday. He was expected to arrive in Kinshasa around 9 a.m. (0800 GMT).

"The Congolese people have waited for this moment for a long time," said Toussaint Bodongo, one of about 300 members of Bemba's MLC party waiting for him at Kinshasa's N'djili airport. "Bemba will maybe bring the solution that we need to Congo."

Bemba's return is expected to energise opposition to President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since his father's assassination in 2001 and is barred by constitutional term limits from standing for a new term in December's election.

But Kabila has refused to commit publicly to not contesting the election. That has kept the country in suspense over whether he will choose someone else to represent his ruling coalition, paving the way for Congo's first democratic transition, or try to run again and risk a violent backlash.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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