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KINSHASA, Congo — Former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba has been declared an opposition party candidate for the December presidential election after recently being acquitted of war crimes charges in an appeal to the International Criminal Court.

Bemba accepted the candidacy from his Movement for the Liberation of Congo party Friday by telephone from Brussels, where he was released days after the ICC overturned his 18-year sentence.

He is awaiting his diplomatic passport so he can return to Congo. He encouraged his party to make him the candidate for a coalition of opposition parties.

Bemba had been found guilty in 2016 as a military commander of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes with a campaign of murder, rape and pillage by his MLC troops in Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

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