Uganda says anyone who wears a red beret could go to prison

Move effectively outlaws uniform worn by pop star and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 02 October 2019 12:53
The red beret has become a trademark uniform of Bobi Wine and his supporters
The red beret has become a trademark uniform of Bobi Wine and his supporters

Uganda has warned anyone who wears a red beret could be prosecuted under military law and sent to prison for life.

The move effectively bans the uniform worn by Ugandan pop star and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine and his supporters.

The government announced the outlawing of red berets and other pieces of military wear in a gazette declaring them “property of the state”.

Mr Wine, who hopes to oust longtime president Yoweri Museveni, denounced the ban.

“This beret ban is a sham. It is a blatant attempt to suffocate a successful threat to the autocratic status quo,” the 37-year-old said in a statement.

“But People Power is more than a red beret, we are bigger than our symbol. We are a booming political movement fighting for the future of Uganda and we will continue our struggle for democracy,” the statement added.

Mr Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, declared his intention to run for president in July, rattling Ugandan authorities who see him as a formidable threat to Mr Museveni, who has been in power for more than three decades.

The pop star has amassed widespread support, especially among young Ugandans who have been won over by his bold criticisms of Mr Museveni, which are sometimes delivered in his lyrics.

Authorities have responded by clamping down on his supporters and jailing some. His rallies have also been broken up with tear gas and live rounds.

Last year, Mr Wine was beaten as he campaigned in a parliamentary by-election and had to seek treatment in the United States.

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Uganda’s next presidential elections are due to be held in early 2021.

Mr Museveni, who has been president since 1986, is widely expected to stand, though he has not officially declared his intention to run.

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