Polling stations have closed and votes have started to be counted in Burundi’s controversial presidential elections, in which incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza is widely expected to win a third consecutive term.

Ballots will continue to be tallied on Wednesday, but officials have said that they do not expect the results to be announced until Thursday.

Shortly before voting started on Tuesday, a policeman and a civilian were killed amid a string of explosions and gunfire in the capital Bujumbura, the epicentre of three months of anti-government protests.

One member of the opposition was also killed overnight in the city’s Nyakabiga neighbourhood. The incident prompted a big crowd to gather there in protest in the morning.

The body was removed on Tuesday, several hours after the incident. But the crowd who were boycotting the elections still stayed on at the incident spot, with riot police mobilised near them keeping a safe distance.

About 3.8 million Burundians were eligible to vote in the polls, which the opposition and civil society groups are boycotting, claiming they will not be free and fair.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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