Movement for the Liberation of the Congo

The Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (French: Mouvement de Libération du Congo, or MLC)[a] is a political party in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Formerly a rebel group operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo that fought the government throughout the Second Congo War, it subsequently took part in the transitional government and is one of the main opposition parties.

Movement for the Liberation of the Congo
Mouvement de libération du Congo
LeaderJean-Pierre Bemba
The 2006 Presidential election candidateJean-Pierre Bemba
FoundedApril 5, 2003 (2003-04-05)
Headquarters6, Avenue du Port, Gombe, Kinshasa
IdeologyCongolese nationalism
Christian democracy
Political positionRight-wing
International affiliationCentrist Democrat International
ColoursBlue, Yellow
Seats in the National Assembly
22 / 500
Seats in the Senate
14 / 108

Rebel yearsEdit

Rebel militiamen, possibly affiliated to the MLC, in Gbadolite in 2000

During the war, the MLC was backed by the government of Rwanda and controlled much of the north of the country, in particular the province of Équateur. It was led by former businessman, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who became vice-president following the 2002 Luanda Agreement. The headquarters of the MLC was located in the town of Gbadolite. The group was the primarily supported by Uganda during the war, while the rival Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) was dominated by Rwanda.

The Movement for the Liberation of the Congo is the main suspect for perpetrating Effacer le tableau, an ethnic cleansing against Pygmy peoples.[1]

The MLC was found guilty of committing war crimes during fighting in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003 in General François Bozizé's attempted coup against the government of then-President Ange-Félix Patassé.[2] The MLC interceded at the behest of President Patassé's government and committed numerous acts of murder, rape, pillaging, and torture over the course of the conflict while attempting to suppress the coup attempt.[2] The leader of the MLC, Jean Pierre-Bemba, was arrested in 2008 near Brussels and charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and five counts of war crimes in the neighboring Central African Republic between 200-2003 by the International Criminal Court (ICC).[3][4] He was convicted of two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes.[5] He was sentenced to 18 years for war crimes but was fully acquitted by the ICC's appeal court on June 8, 2018.[6]

Integration and post-war developmentsEdit

As part of the Inter-Congolese dialogue, Brigadier General Malik Kijege of the MLC was named head of military logistics, while Major General Dieudonné Amuli Bahigwa was named head of the navy. Two of the DRC's ten military districts were also given to the MLC, and Bemba was allowed to appoint and dismiss the foreign minister of the DRC.

Bemba, as the MLC candidate, came second in the 2006 presidential election, and the party gained 64 out of 500 seats in the parliament - the second highest number for any political party. In the 19 January 2007 Senate elections, the party won 14 out of 108 seats.

Fighting broke out in Kinshasa in March 2007 between the army and Bemba's guards, who were supposed to have been integrated into the army but had not been due to what were said to be concerns about Bemba's security. The army prevailed in the fighting, and Bemba took refuge in the South African embassy.[7] On April 8, the MLC released a statement in which it said that its headquarters had been occupied by government forces since the fighting and that it was being persecuted through arbitrary arrests and intimidation.[8] On April 13, the party suspended its participation in the National Assembly (but not in the Senate) due to what it described as a "climate of permanent insecurity". This came shortly after the alleged looting of the home of a MLC member of parliament by government forces.[9] On April 21, the party was allowed access to its previously-occupied buildings in the capital, which were found to have been plundered.[10] On April 25, the party ended its boycott of the National Assembly after Kabila agreed to meet with representatives of the opposition.[11][12]

Following the killing of Daniel Botethi, a member of the MLC who was serving as Vice-President of the Provincial Assembly of Kinshasa, the MLC announced on July 6, 2008 that it was suspending its participation in the National Assembly, the Senate, and the Provincial Assembly of Kinshasa.[13] The MLC ended this boycott after a week.[14]

In the 2011 general election, the MLC lost its position as the second largest party in parliament and 42 of its seats in the lower house, ending the election as the fifth largest party in the National Assembly.

On August 25, 2018, Bemba was barred from running for the presidency in the 2018 general election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) as a result of a then-ongoing appeal before the ICC regarding charges of witness tampering. [15] These charges alleged that there was a conspiracy to influence 14 witnesses through the provision of money as an incentive to ensure false testimony before the ICC during Bemba's first trial. [16] The ICC levied charges against Bemba himself, along with his former defense lawyers, Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, a potential defense witness who did not testify, Narcisse Arido, and the deputy secretary general of the MLC, Fidèle Babala Wandu. [17] By September 17, all of the defendants were found guilty, and received the following sentences: a 300,000 Euro fine and 12 months in prison (Bemba); 2 years and 6 months suspended term of imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 Euros (Musamba); 11 months of imprisonment (Arido); 6 months of imprisonment (Babala); a 2 year suspended term of imprisonment (Mangenda). [18] However, due to time previously spent in detention, Bemba, Babala, and Arido all did not have to serve the sentences. [19] [20]

As a result of Bemba's disqualification by CENI, the MLC and Bemba joined the Lamuka alliance on November 12, uniting with Moïse Katumbi of Together for Change, Adolphe Muzito of Nouvel Elan, and Freddy Matungulu of Congo Na Biso to contest the 2018 general election under a joint banner with Martin Fayulu as their nominee for the presidential election. [21] [22] The MLC, together with the rest of the Lamuka alliance, secured 111 seats in the National Assembly in the election, making the bloc the second largest in the National Assembly, while the alliance subsequently won 6 seats in the Senate in the 2019 Democratic Republic of the Congo Senate election. [23] [24]The lead candidate of the alliance, Fayulu, was unsuccessful in securing the presidency, coming in second place with 34.8% of the vote to winner Félix Tshisekedi's 38.6% vote share. [25] On June 13, 2019, the MLC, as part of the Lamuka alliance, suspended its participation in parliament, citing a Constitutional Court decision which invalidated the 2018 victories of 23 of its candidates. [26]


  1. ^ The MLC is also referred to as the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo or Mouvement de Libération congolais.


  1. ^ Basildon Peta (January 9, 2003). "Rebels 'eating Pygmies' as mass slaughter continues in Congo despite peace agreement". The Independent.
  2. ^ a b "Situation In The Central African Republic In The Case Of The Prosecutor V. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo — Under Seal Urgent Warrant Of Arrest For Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo". International Criminal Court. May 23, 2008. ICC-01/05-01/08-1-tENG-Corr. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Former Congo rebel leader arrested for war crimes" Archived 2008-05-28 at the Wayback Machine, Xinhua, May 25, 2008.
  4. ^ "Former DR Congo leader arrested", BBC World News, 24 May 2008.
  5. ^ "Congo politician guilty in first ICC trial to focus on rape as a war crime". The Guardian. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Jean-Pierre Bemba: Congo warlord's conviction overturned". British Broadcasting Company. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Bemba fighters 'surrender'", Associated Press (IOL), March 28, 2007.
  8. ^ "DRC opposition party hits out at government", AFP (IOL), April 9, 2007.
  9. ^ "Bemba's party concerned about security", Reuters (IOL), April 14, 2007.
  10. ^ "RDCongo: les députés de Bemba réintègrent le siège saccagé de leur parti", AFP (, April 21, 2007 (in French).
  11. ^ Joe Bavier, "Bemba's MLC returns to parliament", Reuters (IOL), April 26, 2007.
  12. ^ "RDCongo: retour à l'Assemblée des députés de Bemba, rencontre avec Kabila jeudi", AFP (, April 25, 2007.
  13. ^ "The MLC suspends its participation in the National Assembly and the Senate", Le Potentiel (, July 7, 2008.
  14. ^ Franz Wild, "Congo Murder Accused Alleges Governor Ordered Hit, Lawyer Says",, July 18, 2008.
  15. ^ Toyin Owoseje, [1], The Independent (, August 25, 2018
  16. ^ [2], September 17, 2018.
  17. ^ [3], September 17, 2018.
  18. ^ [4], September 17, 2018.
  19. ^ [5], September 17, 2018.
  20. ^ Stephanie van den Berg [6], Thomson Reuters,, November 27, 2019.
  21. ^ Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban [7],, November 12, 2018.
  22. ^ [8],, November 13, 2018
  23. ^ "RDC : après l'Assemblée nationale, le FCC de Kabila remporte la majorité absolue au Sénat". Archived from the original on 2019-03-21. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  24. ^ "RDC : Félix Tshisekedi élu président, selon les résultats provisoires". 10 January 2019.
  25. ^ "RDC : Félix Tshisekedi élu président, selon les résultats provisoires". 10 January 2019.
  26. ^ [9],, June 14, 2019.

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