Uganda’s electoral commission has set February 18 as the date for presidential polls, with eight candidates approved to run for office, reports said Thursday.
Veteran leader Yoweri Museveni, in power for 29 years, will face key opposition challengers Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye.
Opposition leaders have said they will back 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.
Other candidates include university professor Venansius Baryamureeba, Abed Bwanika of the People’s Development Party, evangelical pastor Joseph Mabirizi, retired general Benon Biraaro and the only female candidate, lawyer Faith Kyalya.
Campaigning kicks off on November 9 and ends on February 16, two days before the polls, the electoral commission has said, according to the state-owned New Vision newspaper.
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 has claimed the election race will be “the most wide-open race in our political history”.
But Museveni, who has led the east African nation since 1986, and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) are widely expected to return to power.