Vote tallying is underway in Burundi where more than five million people cast their ballots on Wednesday to elect a new leader to replace President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, who has ruled Burundi for the last 15 years, cast his vote in Ngozi Province where he said the polls were a major step forward in consolidating peace and stability.
Nkurunziza recently decided to step down before throwing his weight behind Evariste Ndayishimiye, the candidate of the ruling party, CNDD-FD.
“The elections are a medium for selecting responsible leaders with developmental manifestos,” said Nkurunziza, adding, “”We should always accept the verdict of the people.”
Counting of votes started at 4:00pm on Wednesday with final results expected to be released on Monday, May 25.
Ndayishimiye, who voted from Giheta commune of Gitega province, urged voters to remain peaceful and avoid acts of violence.
Cases of violence have been reported in weeks leading to the election, with human rights activists appealing to authorities to investigate these incidents.
The country held its polls amid the Coronavirus pandemic, locking out International Observers.