BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) _ The National Assembly elected a former agriculture minister, Cyprien Ntaryamira, to replace Burundi's slain president as the next head of state.

The assembly voted 78-0, with one abstention, late Thursday to choose Ntaryamira to succeed Melchoir Ndadaye, who was assassinated during an Oct. 21 military coup attempt.

Ndadaye was the nation's first Hutu president, and the military is dominated by the minority Tutsi ethnic group. Ntaryamira also is a Hutu.

The assassination touched off the fourth round of bloodletting between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi ethnic groups. Relief workers estimated tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting that prompted more than 700,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring countries.

Since Ndadaye's murder, Prime Minister Sylvie Kinigi has been running the government.

Ntaryamira, 38, is considered a moderate and was agriculture minister in Ndadaye's government. He spent 10 years in exile in Rwanda, where he fled in 1973 to avoid ethnic massacre in Burundi.

Ntaryamira and Ndadaye were co-founders of the ruling Burundi Front for Democracy or FRODEBU party. The election must be approved by Burundi's constitutional court.