Despite the pockets of violence that led to deaths of at least 16 people across Nigeria on Saturday during the presidential and national assembly elections, the African Union has endorsed it as peaceful.

“The 2019 elections took place in a generally peaceful environment,” said AU observer mission head Hailemariam Desalegn, the former prime minister of Ethiopia in his first public comments about the presidential election on Monday.

As many as 39 people have been killed in election violence, civil society groups said on Sunday.

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The Situation Room - which represents more than 70 civil society groups - reported 39 deaths after Saturday’s vote.

In previous elections, the death toll has been higher, but most unrest typically occurs after results are announced.

“Since beginning of campaigns in October 2018, more than 260 politically motivated deaths,” Clement Nwankwo, convener of the Situation Room, which had 9,000 observers, told reporters.

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