Burundians turned out to vote on Wednesday despite the Coronavirus pandemic that has forced many countries to ban mass gatherings.
The country expelled the World Health Organisation representative in the country and three other officials for criticizing political parties for holding rallies.
The battle is between the ruling party, CNDD-FDD’s, retired army general, Evariste Ndayishimiye, and the main opposition challenger, Agathon Rwasa, as well as five others.
“The voting is really taking place smoothly and I voted for change but I am pessimistic about the counting of votes,” a voter, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters.
Chairman of the country’s electoral commission, Pierre Claver Kazihise, called for people to come out and vote peacefully saying, “We call on Burundians to vote in massive numbers and vote peacefully. We need good elections.”
The United Nations and the Africa Union harbour doubts as well, saying they were, “concerned about reports of intimidation and violent clashes between supporters of opposing sides”.
If the election turns out to be uneventful, it would be the first peaceful democratic transition in the Central African territory, according to the news agency.
Not many international observers were allowed to monitor proceedings however, following demands that they be quarantined.
Burundi has recorded 42 positive COVID-19 cases and one death from 633 tests.