Lusaka: Zambian President Michael Sata, who has not been seen in public in weeks, has left the country for a medical check-up, the presidency said Monday.
Sata`s press aide George Chellah said the 77-year-old head of state left Zambia on Sunday but did not disclose his destination, or say whether he is being treated.
"His excellency, Michael Chilufya Sata, the president of Zambia, last night left for a medical check-up abroad. First lady Christine Kaseba, some family members and his press aide have accompanied the head of state," a presidency statement said.
Sata has long been rumoured to be seriously ill and has not been seen in public since returning from the UN General Assembly last month, where he failed to make a scheduled speech.
Sata made a rare public appearance on September 19 to tell parliament: "I am not dead."
Despite repeated denials that the president is ill, analysts say a power struggle is already under way behind the scenes for Zambia`s top job.
Zambia on Friday celebrates the 50th anniversary of independence. Foreign heads of state are expected to join the jubilee celebrations which Sata should preside over.