Movement for the Liberation of the Congo

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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
Political positionRight-wing
International affiliationCentrist Democrat International
ColoursBlue, Yellow
Seats in the National Assembly
22 / 500
Seats in the Senate
14 / 108

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. It was 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.

Rebel years[edit]

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

During the war, the MLC was backed by the government of Uganda 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 peace agreement. The town of Gbadolite was the headquarters of the MLC. 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 developments[edit]

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.


  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.

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