The leading challenger to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he has no confidence that elections will be free or fair, and accused the police of increasing violence ahead of the vote. Kizza Besigye said the "overwhelming enthusiasm" for change after three decades of Museveni rule "has caused panic in the no-change camp. That is why, yesterday, elements of the Uganda police and other security agencies unleashed violence on our supporters and sabotaged our campaign in Kampala," he said. "The election has no chance of being free and fair."

An opposition supporter was fatally shot as police fought running battles with Besigye's supporters in Kampala, raising concern over the role of the security forces in tight presidential elections. Ugandan police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a crowd, and briefly arrested Besigye.

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Ugandan riot police detain a supporter of opposition party Forum for Democratic Change in KampalaGoran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Men in plain clothes detain a supporter of Uganda's opposition party Forum for Democratic ChangeGoran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Police fire a tear gas canister at opposition supportersGoran Tomasevic/Reuters
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A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back at policeGoran Tomasevic/Reuters
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A police officer is helped after she was hit by a tear gas canister thrown back at the police line by supporters of opposition leader Kizza BesigyeIsaac Kasamani/AFP
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Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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An opposition supporter demonstrates in front of the police line in KampalaGoran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Isaac Kasamani/AFP
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Riot police arrest FDC leader Kizza Besigye the party's MP for the Kampala district, Nabilah Naggayi SempalaIsaac Kasamani/AFP
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A man shouts for help after seeing the body of a dead protesterGoran Tomasevic/Reuters

The opposition leader has lost three previous presidential elections against Museveni and has been arrested many times, with police accusing him and his supporters of holding illegal rallies. His supporters say such arrests are part of government intimidation tactics. They also accuse Museveni of rigging polls and using state funds to prop up his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). Officials deny all such claims.

Polls suggest Museveni is on course to beat his opponents in the election on Thursday 18 February, though analysts say they see this election as being his toughest political challenge to date.

Museveni, 71, came to power in 1986 after waging a five-year guerrilla war against the government of Milton Obote, regularly using child soldiers.

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October 1985: A National Resistance Army child soldier poses with his weapon near KampalaAFP
Uganda elections
29 January 1986: National Resistance Army (NRA) leader Yoweri Museveni holds his first cabinet meeting after being sworn in as president of UgandaAFP

Museveni is credited with restoring economic and political stability after years of turmoil in the 1970s and 1980s. But unemployment, especially among the youth, has surged under his rule. He's also been accused of failing to curtail rampant corruption and using intimidation tactics, which have included arresting opposition supporters and shutting down what the government says are illegal rallies.

Opponents say they are fed up with Museveni's 30-year rule, and see the election as yet another extension of power. The President has said the military will "smash" those who threaten national security. That amounts to intimidation, according to Besigye, a retired army colonel who served as deputy interior minister in Museveni's first cabinet.

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Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni speaks during a campaign rally in KampalaJames Akena/Reuters
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Supporters of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni wear election T-shirts bearing his portrait, at Kololo Airstrip in KampalaIsaac Kasamani/AFP
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Military police officers stand under a banner for Ugandan president Yoweri MuseveniGoran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Posters of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are burned in KampalaIsaac Kasamani/AFP
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Isaac Kasamani/AFP
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Leading opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party campaigns in Jinja industrial town, in eastern UgandaJames Akena/Reuters
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Supporter of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party's presidential candidate and opposition leader Kizza Besigye holds a portrait of Besigye and a model of a key, the party's symbolWill Boase/AFP
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Ugandan presidential candidate and Opposition leader Kizza Besigye waves to supporters as his convoy drives towards KampalaWill Boase/AFP
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Will Boase/AFP
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Besigye broke ranks with the government in 2000, citing the lack of democracy within the ruling party. He now openly describes Museveni as a dictator.