Burundi’s newly elected president, Evariste Ndayishimiye, has been sworn in two months earlier than planned.
Attendees had been told to arrive early to allow time for coronavirus precautions such as hand-washing and temperature checks, AFP reports.
The fast-tracked ceremony comes after his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza died suddenly last week.
Mr Ndayishimiye is a former rebel leader, like Mr Nkurunziza.
He was backed by his predecessor and was declared the winner of May’s presidential election, which the opposition said was rigged.
Mr Nkurunziza died aged 55 on 8 June after suffering a cardiac arrest, the government said. There are unconfirmed reports that he was suffering from Covid-19.
After 15 years in power, Mr Nkurunziza was due to step down in August.
According to Burundi’s constitution, if the head of state dies in office then the president of the national assembly, currently Pascal Nyabenda, should succeed him.
But after a ruling by Burundi’s Constitutional Court, Mr Ndayishimiye’s inauguration in the capital, Gitega, was brought forward.
Who is Evariste Ndayishimiye?
The 52-year-old army general is regarded as a “humble” and “religious” man.
He was among the “most influential” generals since 2005 when his close friend and colleague in rebellion, Pierre Nkurunziza took power.
Mr Ndayishimiye, commonly known in Burundi as Neva – possibly a combination of his names – was born in 1968 in Gitega province, the current political capital of Burundi.
Mr Ndayishimiye was a law student in the University of Burundi, when the civil war erupted in 1993, following the assassination of the first democratically elected president of Burundi Melchior Ndadaye.
Like his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza, in 1995, Mr Ndayishimiye survived assassination on Hutu students at his campus in the then capital Bujumbura. He fled the country and joined the rebel force that was formed to fight the then Tutsi-led government.
Mr Ndayishimiye supported and closely worked with Pierre Nkurunziza during the Arusha peace talks between the government and the FDD rebels.
Following the 2003 peace accord that saw FDD rebels share the power with the government, Mr Ndayishimiye deputised the then army chief of Burundi, his colleague Nkurunziza took interior ministry.
In 2006 he was named minister of the interior before he was appointed to be the military advisor of President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Ten years later, Mr Ndayishimiye was made secretary-general of the ruling party (CNDD-FDD) until January 2020 when the late Mr Nkurunziza picked him as his successor.
Mr Ndayishimiye, a father of six, is known as a practising roman catholic, who also embraces the ideology of his predecessor of “emphasising on God” in politics.