Burundi’s President of 15 years, Pierre Nkurunziza, aged 55, has died of a heart attack, the government says.
Burundi was planning to make him a “supreme guide to patriotism”, according to the official title that was to be given to him once he steps down after Wednesday’s election.
He was to also receive a $540,000 (£440,000) retirement pay-out and a luxury villa.
The build up to the poll – in which seven candidates are vying to replace the now late president – has been marred by violence and accusations that the vote will not be free and fair.
But whoever wins will be required by law to consult him on matters of national security and national unity. Whether they have to follow his advice is not clear.
There were widespread protests when Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term in 2015 which began amid political turmoil.
His announcement that he would run for a further five years in power had sparked anger as some questioned its legality.
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There was a failed coup attempt, hundreds of people died in clashes and tens of thousands fled the country.
His election in July 2015, with nearly 70% of the vote, was described as a “joke” by opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, who boycotted the poll.