Kampala: Uganda's Presidential campaign season opened on Monday ahead of a vote due February 2016 pitting the country's veteran leader against a longtime challenger and a sacked Prime Minister.
Eight candidates are running in the February 18 poll, seeking to end President Yoweri Museveni's 30-year rule.
Museveni, in power since 1986, will face his stiffest opposition from Kizza Besigye, a three-time loser for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and Amama Mbabazi, a former Prime Minister running as an independent candidate.
The Electoral Commission has urged candidates "to conduct peaceful campaigns and comply with the law" including a dusk curfew on rallies and campaigning to end two days before the polls.
Pressure group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for free and fair elections.
"This campaign period is a critical opportunity to avoid the repression, violence, police brutality, and recriminations of past campaigns," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher, in a statement.
Other candidates are university professor Venansius Baryamureeba, Abed Bwanika of the People's Development Party, who vowed to "rehabilitate homosexuals" if elected evangelical pastor Joseph Mabirizi, retired general Benon Biraaro and lawyer Faith Kyalya, the only female candidate.
At the head of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, Museveni is widely-expected to win another five-year term with opposition leaders so far failing to field a joint candidate as promised.
Besigye and Mbabazi have agreed to field a joint candidate in a bid to unify opposition to Museveni, under The Democratic Alliance (TDA) party.
But efforts so far to select the candidate have collapsed, as all want to be leader.
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