UN mission helps opposition figure leave DR Congo for medical treatment

UN mission helps opposition figure leave DR Congo for medical treatment

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has helped former vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba, whose guards were involved in deadly fighting last month with the Congolese army, to leave the country safely today for medical treatment.

The mission, known as MONUC, provided security for Mr. Bemba’s transport from the South African embassy in the capital, Kinshasa, to the airport, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters.

Mr. Bemba then took a flight to Portugal, where he is scheduled to receive medical treatment for an old injury.

The MONUC move follows a request from Mr. Bemba and Congolese authorities after he was granted permission to leave Kinshasa by the President of the Provisional Office of the Senate.

Hundreds of people were killed during several days of clashes in and around the Gombe district of Kinshasa last month between Government forces and Mr. Bemba’s security detail.

Last year Mr. Bemba was defeated by Joseph Kabila in the run-off round of landmark presidential elections in the DRC, which is rebuilding after the end of a six-year civil war.

MONUC has been involved in discussions with Congolese authorities about the handover of opposition forces, some of whom have taken refuge with the mission in Kinshasa, to Government authorities for reintegration or disarmament.