Africa

Congo opposition leader Katumbi flies to South Africa

FILE - In this file photo dated Friday, April 22, 2016, Congolese President Joseph Kabila speaks Friday, April 22, 2016 at U.N. headquarters.  Longtime incumbent Kabila is constitutionally barred from seeking another term in office, but Congo's top opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential election Moise Katumbi flew to South Africa for medical treatment Friday May, 20, 2016, one day after authorities issued an arrest warrant for him. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, FILE)

FILE - In this file photo dated Friday, April 22, 2016, Congolese President Joseph Kabila speaks Friday, April 22, 2016 at U.N. headquarters. Longtime incumbent Kabila is constitutionally barred from seeking another term in office, but Congo's top opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential election Moise Katumbi flew to South Africa for medical treatment Friday May, 20, 2016, one day after authorities issued an arrest warrant for him. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, FILE)  (The Associated Press)

Congo's top opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential election is flying to South Africa for medical treatment a day after authorities issued an arrest warrant for him, his lawyer says.

Supporters of Moise Katumbi say the charges are politically motivated and aimed at sidelining him from taking part in the election.

Katumbi had been hospitalized in Lubumbashi with an unspecified ailment when authorities charged him Thursday with hiring mercenaries.

Congolese authorities said Friday they had granted Katumbi permission to recover in South Africa but that he must later return to Congo to answer the charges against him. Katumbi's lawyer Georges Kapiamba confirmed his departure.

Longtime incumbent Joseph Kabila is constitutionally barred from seeking another term though some fear he may try to stay in power by delaying the elections.