Polls opened and ended Thursday, paving way for a rather delayed vote counting exercise in Uganda's hotly contested election as the country climaxes a deadly election that has so far claimed over 50 people in poll-related violence.
Vote tallying at the main centre in Kyambogo, Kampala started after 2am Friday, five hours later than the electoral body had anticipated but with preliminary results from 330 (0.7 percent) polling stations giving incumbent president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni an early lead.
Mr Museveni, 76, stood highest with 50,097 votes (61.31percent) while opposition frontrunner and NUP presidential candidate, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was trailing with 22,802 votes (27.9 percent), according to Electoral Commission's (EC) provisional results. 153 votes were deemed invalid on the night.
2021 Presidential election provisional results from 330 polling stations
Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni
National Resistance Movement (NRM)
Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine
National Unity Platform (NUP)
Patrick Oboi Amuriat
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC)
Democratic Party (DP)
Nancy Kalembe Linda
Alliance for National Transformation (ANT)
The race remains tight and too early to call with only 85,721 votes counted but Bobi Wine Thursday hinted on the possibility of rejecting results in an election that was marred by gross irregularities.
"The results the EC boss Simon Byabakama puts out are his business. We are in this to win," Bobi Wine told the press in Magere, Wakiso District, shortly after voting.
Parts of Kampala metropolitan, a traditional opposition swing territory, reported cases of delayed voting and technological difficulties in using Biometric Voter Verification Machines. Also, a ballot box was Thursday stolen in Ntungamo.
"EC had over four years to prepare for this election. They say they delivered voting materials to areas over 500km away from Kampala but failed to deliver in their own backyard. There must be a wrong plan," voter Kenneth Kanaabi, 25, said.
The social media, digital trends and citizen journalism evolution were faced with unfamiliarly heightened forces of a complete shutdown as heavy security was also maintained throughout the country.
Several other opposition figures all week long expressed intent to trash results, should they swing in Mr Museveni's direction through electoral malpractices.
"We warn Byabakama. He should know that he has an obligation to Ugandans not just Museveni," FDC presidential candidate, Mr Patrick Amuriat, said Thursday.
NRM presidential candidate Museveni- who has been in power since 1986, has a historical cycle of winning in elections that have overly been rejected by opposition and at some point international observers highlighting irregularities.
Independent presidential candidate Ms Nancy Kalembe said she was optimistic that "Museveni would surrender and allow peaceful transition after election defeat."
The January 14 election is largely seen by opposition figures as a crucial 'revolution and referenda vote' on whether Mr Museveni can extend his rule to four decades or not.
"This election is significant for a country that has to be set free from a reckless regime," ANT presidential candidate, Gen Mugisha Muntu said.
Uganda went into elections still in the aftershock of deadly November 18/19 protests that claimed over 50 people following the arrest of Bobi Wine in the eastern district Luuka District. The protests exposed Uganda's electoral violence and many opposition supporters in detention.
According to Mr Byabakama, Thursday's election had been conducted "largely peacefully across the country."
The electoral body he leads is now tasked by the constitution to declare final results within 48 hours after closure of polls.
*The next instalment of results declaration by the Electoral Commission will be January 15, at 9am (Local EAT)