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Jean Pierre Bemba, Former Congo Vice President, Not Running In Elections After War Crimes Probe

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KINSHASA, Congo -- An opposition official says Congo's former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba will not be a candidate for the Central African nation's November elections.

Bemba awaits his war crimes trial at the International Criminal Court at The Hague on charges of murder, rape and pillage in neighboring Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

Lusaka Thomas, secretary-general of Bemba's party, said Friday that given the situation with the ICC, "it is impossible for our candidate to participate in the election this year."

Thomas says the party would back a communal opposition candidate.

Bemba was President Joseph Kabila's main rival in the country's first democratic election in 2006. Kabila's biggest challenger now is veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi.

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