Rubaga North Councillor-Elect Charged for Wearing Red Beret

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Rubaga North Councillor Elect James Mubiru appearing before the court. Rubaga North Councillor-Elect James Mubiru has been charged for the unauthorized wearing of a uniform that is preserved for the armed forces. The offense is drawn from the Uganda People’s Defense Forces Act.

The General Court Martial led by Lt General Andrew Gutti heard that on November 18, 2020, while in Nakulabye, a suburb of Kampala, Mubiru was found wearing a red beret, a monopoly of the Defense Forces.

The Beret, a signature headgear for the opposition National Unity Platform, was designated as official military clothing, a move that bans its use by people who do not belong to the armed forces. In line with the gazette dated September 18, 2020, the sale or wearing of any attire which resembles the army uniform was banned.

Members of the public found in possession of the items are liable on conviction to life imprisonment under section 160 of the UPDF act, and seven years, under section 164 of the same act. This also applies to persons who sell or wear side caps, bush hats, ceremonial forage caps, and camouflaged baseball caps. 

Sources who attended the court session where journalists and lawyers were denied access, said the Army Prosecutors led by Ambrose Guma told the court that the investigations were still ongoing. He also told the court that he asked the court to have Mubiru remanded to the Military Police Barracks in Makindye for safety reasons. Mubiru who was represented on state brief by Major Kamanda Silas Mutungi denied the charges and was accordingly remanded up to April 13, 2021.

The court appearance ends speculation that Mubiru, who was arrested on March 12, from Kasubi, a suburb of Kampala, was dead.  Over the weekend, news about his alleged death went viral on social media forcing his supporters to convene at his home for a vigil. 

In the recent past, dozens of National for Unity Platform supporters have been charged before the Court Martial in shifts on similar charges.  These were arrested on November 18 during protests that followed the arrest of then Presidential Candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.

Following the arrest, hundreds of NUP supporters went to the streets demanding his immediate release. 54 people were shot dead and others injured as the army and police tried to quell the protests in various parts of the country.


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