Former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba cannot run to be the next president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s electoral commission said.
Mr Bemba was one of six would-be candidates deemed ineligible following hours of deliberation.
The ex-rebel leader had a war crimes conviction overturned in June.
However, the commission said Mr Bemba was excluded because of his conviction by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for bribing witnesses.
Mr Bemba, who returned to the DR Congo at the start of August after 11 years spent in exile or prison, is currently appealing against the ICC conviction.
This year’s election is meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, whose second and final term in office ended two years ago.
The governing coalition has nominated former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary to be its candidate.
A total of 25 people put their names forward, including former prime ministers Antoine Gizenga and Adolphe Muzito – both of whom were deemed ineligible to run.
Opposition parties condemned the electoral commission’s decision before it was even announced, accusing “the current regime” of trying “to suppress the electoral process”.
Those excluded, including Mr Bemba, who is one of President Kabila’s most feared rivals, can appeal against the decision.
The final list of candidates is scheduled to be published in September.
Who is Jean-Pierre Bemba?
- A well-connected businessman and the son of prominent Congolese businessman Bemba Saolona
- 1998: Helped by Uganda to form MLC rebel group in Democratic Republic of Congo
- 2003: Becomes vice-president under peace deal
- 2006: Loses run-off election to President Joseph Kabila but gets most votes in western DR Congo, including Kinshasa
- 2007: Flees to Belgium after clashes in Kinshasa
- 2008: Arrested in Brussels and handed over to ICC
- 2010: Trial begins
- 2016: Found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity
- 2018: Conviction overturned on appeal