Kinshasa (AFP) - Etienne Tshisekedi, an 81-year-old prominent opposition politician in the Democratic Republic of Congo, left Kinshasa for Brussels early Saturday on a specially-arranged medical flight, an AFP journalist witnessed.
Tshisekedi, who had not been seen in public for months, his wife Marthe, one of his children and a doctor boarded the plane, which took off at 0425 GMT.
He was too weak to walk and was helped into the Air Alliance jet, which was to make several stopovers on its way to the Belgian capital.
Previously, Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party had repeatedly batted away questions about the health of the politician, and denied that any medevac was being organised.
Publicly available documents said the medical flight had been authorised a week ago. But a government source said it had been delayed because of disagreement between Tshisekedi's doctor and his family over whether it should go to South Africa or Belgium.
Tshisekedi stood for election in a 2011 presidential poll but was beaten by the incumbent, Joseph Kabila. He had rejected that result and declared himself the president-elect.