Kampala, Uganda | URN | Uganda People’s Defence Forces [UPDF] has said it has no issue with the decision by presidential candidate, Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine to put on body armors during his campaign meetings.
UPDF’s response through spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso comes hours after Kyagulanyi posted a picture of him and his long time music partner, Nubian Li dressed in body armors before they embarked on their campaign trail in Kibuku, Budaka and Manafwa districts.
Brig Byekwaso said body protective gears are not among the preserves of UPDF. “It is not a preserve of security forces. Anyone can buy and wear them. We even make them in Nakasongola under Luweero industries,” Brig Byekwaso said.
UPDF and police have been raiding National Unity Platform [NUP] offices and confiscating berets and overalls that have stars and the court of arms which are symbols of ranks given to policemen and military personnel.
Over 100 NUP members have been arrested, charged or released on bond after being arrested in military and police operations targeting those wearing red berets and other clothes perceived as preserves of security forces.
Deputy police spokesperson, Polly Namaye on November 5, issued a statement explaining that NUP coordinator for Karamoja, Angulo Andrew Lokong was arrested for having preserves of the military.
“The operation was carried out in the area of Camp Swahili South division in Moroto municipality. This follows a series of videos that were seen making rounds on social platforms showing youths dressed in clothes similar to government stores (military attire),” Namaye said.
A senior police officer at Kampala metropolitan headquarters-CPS described the UPDF decision to ignore Kyagulanyi body armors as a change of mind. The senior policeman showed our reporter resolutions made weeks back barring any civilian from procuring body armors except journalists who must be cleared by the defense ministry.
“I think UPDF has changed its mind. I was in a meeting and a certain Colonel was appointed to spearhead a team that would clear media houses planning to procure body armors for their journalists. In that meeting, it was resolved that no person should procure body armors unless cleared by security,” a senior policeman said.
NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi also posted on his social media page a picture of Kyagulanyi saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough must get going, especially when leaders become mis-leaders, and mentors become tormentors when freedom of expression becomes a target of oppression.”