Eight lecterns and seats, arranged alphabetically, had been laid out for the debate, including one for Museveni which was then pushed to side. Museveni had already said he would only attend if “his schedule permits.”
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.
“I am happy to attend the debate but the absence of Mr Museveni is unfortunate,” Besigye said.
The debate got under way an hour behind schedule, beginning around 17:00 GMT.