Uganda outlawed on Monday the civilian use of green, maroon, dark brown, grey, navy blue and the red berets, that had become a symbol of the “People Power” movement.
The red beret, also worn by some Ugandan soldiers, was included in Uganda’s first ever gazette of all-military clothing, deeming it to be “property of the state” which civilians cannot wear. Members of the public found in possession of the items could be “liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years” under the UPDF Act of 2005.
“The dress code for the UPDF (Uganda People’s Defence Forces) has been gazetted. The action was endorsed by the top organs of the army which also commended the dress committee for concluding the task assigned to it years back,” military spokesman Richard Karemire said in a statement.
“It manifests the commitment to define identity and outlook of a professional army as well as adhering to the EAC (East African Community) protocols,” Karemire added.
The gazette notice was seen as a big blow for Bobi Wine and his People’s Power Movement who have been using the red beret as one of their outfit.
According to most Ugandans, including government critics, the move was made to target the musician [Bobi Wine] who has joined the growing list of Museveni’s political rivals.
“This beret ban is a sham. It is a blatant attempt to suffocate a successful threat to the autocratic status quo,” Bobi Wine said in a statement.
Nevertheless, Wine insisted it would have no real impact as People Power was more than a red beret.
“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,” Bobi Wine said in a statement.
The former pop star Wine has announced he is running for president against Yoweri Museveni in 2021 and had made the red beret his trademark.