Bemba, a former militia chief, is appointed as the country’s defense minister

While the nation struggles with armed violence in its fractious east, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi selected former militia commander Jean-Pierre Bemba as minister of defense on Friday.

Bemba was imprisoned by the International Criminal Court for atrocities committed by rebels he led from 2003 to 2006, but the court overturned his sentence in 2018. Bemba served as vice president during that time.

Kinshasa and other Western governments claim that the neighboring Rwandan government is supporting the M23 insurgency, which is waging an armed insurrection in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Vital Kamerhe, who served as Tshisekedi’s former chief of staff and was previously convicted of theft and given a 20-year jail sentence, was appointed minister of the economy.

The new government’s makeup was read aloud on national television early on Friday by a Tshisekedi spokesperson.

Elections in the nation are scheduled for December.

Upon taking office in January 2019, Tshisekedi has declared his intention to seek reelection.


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