Burundian ruling leader Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday praised his handpicked successor for a "big win" in the presidential election, although the opposition has pledged to challenge the outcome in court.
Election officials said Monday Evariste Ndayishimiye, a former army general chosen by the powerful ruling party as heir to Nkurunziza, winner of the May 20 poll with 68.72% of the vote.
"I warmly congratulate the president-elect, Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye, for his great victory which confirms that the vast majority of Burundians adhere to the projects and the values he embodies," said Nkurunziza, who chose not to not run after 15 years in power, posted on Twitter.
"We are privileged witnesses to history. God bless Burundi! ”
Strongest opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa came far behind with 24.19% of the vote, but his National Freedom Council (CNL) rejected the results, alleging that he had cheated by the ruling party , the CNDD-FDD.
CNL spokesperson Therence Manirambona said on Monday that his party was filing a legal complaint to be filed in a few days "so that the court can make a decision on the massive fraud that marked this electoral farce."
The CNDD-FDD beat the CNL by a similar margin in the legislative elections held on the same day.
No foreign observer was allowed to enter Burundi to monitor the electoral process, which continued with little consideration for the coronavirus epidemic following a marked tense campaign by violence and arbitrary arrests.
Nkurunziza has been in power since 2005 and his last years in power have been turned upside down.
His third election in 2015 sparked violence that left at least 1,200 dead and forced 400,000 to flee the country.
Burundi is tightly controlled by the ruling party and its youth wing is linked to an energetic crackdown on critics of the government.
State security forces have been charged by human rights groups and the United Nations with crimes against humanity and abuse such as torture, disappearances, sexual violence and executions.
Ndayishimiye is expected to inherit a deeply isolated country, under sanctions and cut by foreign donors, its economy and national psyche damaged by the years of unrest.
It remains to be seen what influence Nkurunziza will exercise in the future and how freely his successor will be able to reign.
Nkurunziza was elevated this year by the Burundian Parliament to the rank of "supreme guide of patriotism" and he will continue to chair the powerful council of elders of the ruling party.
Ndayishimiye is expected to take an oath for a seven-year term in late August, at the end of Nkurunziza's term.