Uganda held its first ever presidential candidates’ debate Friday but veteran leader Yoweri Museveni did not attend.
All seven opposition candidates vying to end President Museveni’s 30-year rule turned up for the debate but it was the absence of the veteran ruler that caught the eye.
Eight lecterns and seats, arranged alphabetically, had been laid out for the debate, including one for Museveni which was then pushed to the side. Museveni had already said he would only attend if “his schedule permits.”
Uganda’s Africanews correspondent Raziah Athman said Museveni had lined up four rallies on Friday and had instead chosen to campaign in the western part of the country.
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 and ruling party stalwart now running for the new Go-Forward party.
The landlocked country will go to the polls on February 18.