Source AP ©

Congo failed presidential candidate flies overseas

 A failed presidential candidate whose fighters made the clash with Government troops in the capital of Congo flew from Africa for medical treatment, the U.N. said.

Jean-Pierre Bemba left for Portugal after midnight for a checkup for a leg fracture he suffered several months earlier, the U.N.'s peacekeeping mission in war-battered Congo said in a statement. The government had earlier refused to let Bemba leave the country for medical treatment at a hospital in Lisbon.

Violent clashes between his militia and government last month in Kinshasa left at least 200 dead and sent Bemba into hiding. The country's chief prosecutor had issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of high treason because of the clashes.

The former rebel leader, whose militia is thought to number in the hundreds, had refused to dismantle his personal guard after failing to win last year's presidential election. He had said he needed the militia because he feared for his life.

Several deadlines came and went for his soldiers to register with the army, and each missed deadline escalated the tension, until the violence erupted outside Bemba's compound March 22.

Mineral-rich Congo has been ravaged by years of dictatorship and civil war that have kept its people from profiting from its vast reserves of diamonds, gold and other resources.

The crisis over Bemba's militia underlined the fragility of Congo's emerging democracy. The nation, which is the size of Western Europe, held its first free election in more than 40 years last fall. Bemba came in second to Joseph Kabila.

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