Ugandan opposition aiming to name joint candidate for polls

AP News
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Posted: Sep 21, 2015 9:58 AM

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The leaders of Uganda's main political opposition parties are meeting Monday in talks aimed at fronting a joint candidate to challenge the country's long-serving leader in elections next year.

Three-time presidential challenger Kizza Besigye, believed to be the front-runner for joint opposition candidate, faces competition from former Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. Mbabazi announced his presidential ambitions earlier this year after falling out with President Yoweri Museveni.

Uganda's opposition leaders hope to copy the success in Nigeria, where a candidate of a coalition this year defeated an incumbent president for the first time in Africa's most populous country.

Francis Mwijukye, an aide to Besigye, said they are waiting anxiously for the decision of the umbrella group, called the Democratic Alliance. There are intense negotiations over the viability of Mbabazi, who says he remains a member of the ruling party even though he wants to run as an independent.

If Besigye is not picked, his Forum for Democratic Change party is likely to hold a meeting to decide whether to stay in the alliance.

Analysts say Museveni, who has held power in this East African country since 1986, is vulnerable against a united opposition. Museveni himself was nominated by his party on Sunday, and he said one of his main goals will be to fight official corruption.

Although Museveni remains popular in many parts of rural Uganda, where he is widely seen as a father figure who tamed the excesses of the military, his critics are concerned he may want to rule for life and accuse him of running an authoritarian government.