Kampala - Uganda's veteran leader Yoweri Museveni and opposition challenger Amama Mbabazi have been approved by the electoral commission to run in presidential polls next year, reports said Wednesday.
The formal nomination kickstarts campaigning ahead of polls slated for February 2016, the third decade in power for Museveni, who has led the east African nation since 1986.
Opposition leaders have said they will field a joint candidate, expected to be either Kizza Besigye, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party and a three-time challenger, or ex-prime minister Mbabazi.
In September, efforts to select the candidate for The Democratic Alliance (TDA) coalition collapsed when Besigye and Mbabazi failed to agree who would be the leader. However, last week they agreed again to field a joint candidate.
Nevertheless, Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) are still widely expected to return to power.
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"The past recent years have been years of building the foundation," Museveni said after his nomination, according to the New Vision newspaper.
"We have gone through three stages so far - which include liberation, recovery and foundation - and what is next is to take off."
The nominations of Museveni and Mbabazi were approved on Tuesday, while Besigye is expected to be approved on Wednesday, the second and final day of the nomination process.
With the main opposition leaders being influential former members of the ruling party, critics say they struggle to offer a convincing alternative or to effectively criticise a system they benefitted from, or in some cases helped create.
Mbabazi's bid has sparked criticism from those who point out that many of political failings he speaks of happened when he was the ruling NRM party secretary-general.
Other candidates include university professor Venansius Baryamureeba, who was also approved on Tuesday, as well as Abed Bwanika of the People's Development Party and Joseph Mabirizi, an evangelical pastor, who will be considered for nomination later on Wednesday.