Uganda approves Museveni and Mbabazi for presidential polls
November 04 2015 06:11 PM
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Yoweri Museveni (L) and Amama Mbabazi
Yoweri Museveni (L) and Amama Mbabazi

AFP/Kampala

Uganda's veteran leader Yoweri Museveni, in power for 29 years, has been approved by the electoral commission to run for office next year along with opposition challengers Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye.
The commission's formal nominations this week kickstart campaigning ahead of polls slated for February 2016, the third decade in power for Museveni, who has led the east African nation since 1986.
Opposition leaders have said they will field a joint candidate, expected to be either Besigye, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party and a three-time challenger, or ex-prime minister Mbabazi.
In September, efforts to select the candidate for The Democratic Alliance (TDA) coalition collapsed when Besigye and Mbabazi failed to agree on who would be the leader. However, last week they agreed again to field a joint candidate.
Nevertheless, Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) are widely expected to return to power.
"The past recent years have been years of building the foundation," Museveni said after his nomination, according to the New Vision newspaper.
"We have gone through three stages so far -- which include liberation, recovery and foundation -- and what is next is to take off."
But Mbabazi spoke hopefully of winning.
"Before us is the most wide-open race in our political history," Mbabazi said after being nominated. "I seek a change in government through peaceful means."
The nominations of Museveni and Mbabazi were approved on Tuesday, while Besigye was approved on Wednesday, the second and final day of the nomination process.
Besigye said he wanted to invest in all rather than just "a privileged few."
With the two main opposition candidates being influential former members of the ruling party, critics say they struggle to offer a convincing alternative or to effectively criticise a system they created and benefitted from.
Mbabazi's bid has sparked criticism from those who point out that many of the political failings he speaks of happened when he was the ruling NRM party secretary-general.
Other candidates include university professor Venansius Baryamureeba, who was also approved on Tuesday, as well as Abed Bwanika of the People's Development Party and Joseph Mabirizi, an evangelical pastor.

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