Rwandan President Paul Kagame looked set to win his re-election bid, the head of the electoral commission said in the capital Kigali early Saturday.
With some 75 per cent of votes counted, Kagame is projected to win 98 per cent of the vote, the head of the electoral commission, Kalisa Mbanda, announced on Rwandan state television.
Kagame's two challengers, Frank Habineza from the Democratic Green Party and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana, were polling at 0.45 and 0.72 per cent of votes, according to the electoral commission.
The commission is expected to release provisional final results Saturday afternoon.
Kagame went into the election Friday as the clear favourite seeking a third term. The 59-year-old has dominated the East African country's politics for more than two decades.
Kagame's supporters celebrated into the night at the ruling party's headquarters in the capital Kigali, where a performance stage had been set up.
Kagame's victory speech was televised live on state-owned TV. He thanked his supporters asked other Rwandans to work with him.
Philippe Mpayimana conceded defeat, saying he accepted the results and was ready to work with the winner.
Kagame cast his vote Friday at Rugunga Primary School in Kigali, accompanied by his wife, Jeannette, without making any public comments.
Both opposition candidates, who also voted within the capital, told dpa earlier they were content with the election process.
"The election process has been transparent, and I will accept the outcome," Mpayimana told dpa after voting in Kigali's Nyarugenge district.
Habineza, who cast his vote in the district of Kimironko, said voting had taken place in a "peaceful atmosphere."
Authorities had excluded several would-be independent candidates from running in the election, arguing that they did not have enough support.
A 2015 referendum saw 98 per cent of the electorate in favour of changing the constitution to allow Kagame to seek a third term.Ultimately, he could stay in power until 2034.
His Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has governed the country since its armed wing defeated the country's ruling civilian and military authorities in 1994, ending the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis - Kagame's ethnic group - and moderate Hutus.
Kagame has wielded wide-ranging powers since the end of the genocide and became president in 2000.
The president's critics allege repression - including killings – of the opposition.
But Kagame is also believed to enjoy widespread popularity, having transformed the country ravaged by genocide and civil war into one of Africa's most stable nations.
Kagame has overseen strong economic growth - an average of eight per cent between 2001 and 2015 - while also turning Rwanda into a technological hub and uprooting corruption.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) sent observers to the election, the final results of which were expected to be announced within a week.
Polling stations closed as scheduled at 1200 GMT (1500 local time), with no incidents of insecurity or irregularities reported during the election, police said.
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