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Burundi election body's vice president has fled country

The vice president of Burundi's election commission has fled the country ahead of the poll. As another member of the commission is also thought to have fled, the body's stability seems to fluctuate before the elections

Spes-Caritas Ndironkeye left the central African nation on a flight for neighboring Rwanda on Friday evening, the news agency AFP reported.

An electoral commission source said she "left without saying goodbye, without saying where she was going." lluminata Ndabahagamye, a second member of the five-person commission, is also thought to have fled, sources told the AFP.

Electoral commission appear to fall apart

"Technically, the Election Commission can continue to work with four out of five members. But if two have left, no decision can be taken and it will be impossible to replace them before June 5," a source informed the agency AFP.

It was not immediately clear if Ndironkeye's absence would have any impact on parliamentary elections on June 5 or on the June 26 presidential vote.

Election observers pull out

On Thursday, the EU and Burundi's influential Roman Catholic Church pulled out from observing the elections, the news agency Reuters reported. They said that next month's vote could not be fair because of daily unrestand a crackdown on media.

The opposition has also said the holding of free and fair elections is impossible, with independent media silenced and allegations of threats and intimidation by President Nkurunziza's supporters.

The biggest political crisis since the civil war

Burundi's crisis surrounds Nkurunziza's bid to stand for a third five-year term in office, something that opposition and rights groups say violates the constitution. Nkurunziza's decision set off an attempted, though ultimately unsuccessful, coup. At least 20 people have died and 431 people have been wounded in protests against Nkurunziza.

The political crisis is the most severe in the east African nation since its ethnic civil war ended in 2005.

To discuss the crisis in Burundi, regional leaders from the East African Community common market are to hold a summit in the Tanzanian capital on Sunday.

ra/jil (Reuters, AFP)

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