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Uganda's Museveni, Besigye Set for Third Electoral Face-Off

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, left, being interviewed by a journalist, after he was nominated to run for presidential elections; Forum for Democratic Change’s Dr. Kizza Besigye after being nominated for presidential elections in the capital city Kampa

Ugandan electoral officials have cleared President Yoweri Museveni and chief rival Kizza Besigye to run in the February 18 presidential election.

This will be the third election in a row that the president has faced the opposition leader, who at one time served as Mr. Museveni's personal doctor.

The electoral commission approved both men Monday during nomination ceremonies in the capital, Kampala. Several other candidates are expected to run, but analysts say Mr. Besigye is the only one who poses a challenge to the president.

Mr. Besigye lost the 2001 and 2006 elections to Mr. Museveni. On both occasions, he and his supporters accused the president of fraud.

Speaking to reporters Monday, President Museveni said he wants to make Uganda a modern, first-world country. In separate remarks, Mr. Besigye promised to fight government corruption.

Mr. Museveni has led Uganda since his rebel group seized power in 1986. He has won three elections since the advent of multi-party polls in 1995. Five years ago, parliament removed presidential term limits, enabling him to run for office indefinitely.

Mr. Museveni was once hailed for stabilizing Uganda, liberalizing the economy and tackling the AIDS epidemic. But critics say he has become autocratic over the years.

During the 2006 elections, the state accused Mr. Besigye of plotting to overthrow the government and charged him with treason and rape. He was cleared of the rape charge in 2006, and Uganda's constitutional court dismissed the treason charge earlier this month.

Also this month, Uganda officials seized 500 copies of a new book by Mr. Besigye's sister that is critical of the president.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.