Burundi Vice-President Gervais Rufyikiri flees

One of Burundi’s vice-presidents has fled the country after saying that he could not support the third-term bid of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Burundi has undergone months of turmoil since Mr Nkurunziza announced that he would be running for office again in July’s elections.

Gervais Rufyikiri told France24 TV that a third term for the president was unconstitutional.

A government spokesman said the vice-president is on a foreign mission.

Violent protests in the capital Bujumbura followed the 25 April announcement that Mr Nkurunziza would seek re-election.

Rights groups say at least 70 people have been killed and 500 wounded as demonstrators clashed with police over the past two months.

More than 100,000 people have fled Burundi since the start of the crisis, the UN says.

Mr Rufyikiri said that he felt “personally threatened” in a similar way to others who oppose the president.

But a government spokesman said no-one had been threatened.

The vice-president is the latest in a series of high-profile Burundians to leave the country, including a constitutional court judge and a member of the electoral commission.

Mr Nkurunziza’s critics point out that a third term contravenes the constitution, which requires the president to step down after two terms.

But Burundi’s Constitutional Court ruled that his first term does not count because he was elected by parliament and not voters.

In May, the president survived a coup attempt.

The election was due in June but was put back to 15 July following pressure from regional leaders.

The United Nations is currently trying to broker talks between the governing party and the opposition to resolve tensions.




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