A spokesman for Burundi's military says an army major who is the deputy commander of an elite infantry unit failed to show up for work on Monday, sparking speculation he had defected.

Col. Gaspard Baratuza told reporters that Maj. Emmanuel Ndayikeza had no reason to be absent as he had not sought time off duty.

He said the major's absence will be considered a defection if he is absent without leave for eight days. Ndayizeka is deputy commandant of a military unit known as Camp Muha in the south of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura.

Burundi has been tense since April when it was announced President Pierre Nkurunziza would stood for a third term, which he won in July elections.

Recent attacks on military outposts have raised fears of a rebel movement.