The surge in personal and community attacks attributable to political leanings could trigger a security ban on the use of political symbols like the People Power Movement and ruling NRM red and yellow berets respectively, authorities in Kampala have said.
The warning comes on the coat-tail of a very recent gruesome attack on a yellow beret-wearing Baker Kasumba, 21. A photo of a pinned-down yellow beret-wearing Kasumba with six-inch nails driven through his palms captivated the nation, drawing anger, condemnation and quiet support from different political camps.
Speaking yesterday in an interview with The Observer at his office in Nakawa, Herbert Anderson Barora, the deputy resident city commissioner in charge of Nakawa division, said a number of people have complained about being targeted by security agents because of their political association with the People Power Movement led by Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the Kyaddondo East MP.
He advised the leadership of the People Power Movement not to lament and cry whenever people claim they have been targeted for supporting the movement. He said the leadership should try to pick their real supporters from imposters. Barora said security operatives will continue to arrest any criminal suspect irrespective of political leanings.
“Kyagulanyi should advise his real supporters to understand that politics is competitive and what a politician wants other politicians want it too and anyone will fight to protect their political interests. His failure to do that will be misleading to his real supporters and security will not take any chances with a person putting community security at risk,” he said.
He said criminals have used political symbols to commit crimes under the pretext of political activism. According to him, associating with a political organisation is everyone’s right but it is important that activists put safety and security of their communities first. He advised everybody identifying with a certain political organisation to stop being careless.
“If you realise that wearing such colours or symbols of a political organisation puts your life at risk, it’s better you do not put them on because it is not the colours or symbols that make you a true supporter,” Barora said.
Commenting on Kasumba’s attack, Barora said such attacks are dangerous, more so, if they trigger reprisal attacks.
“If such cases of attacks continue being reported, as security organs, we shall use our mandate of protecting the citizens and ban the use of all such political symbols,” he said.
He, however, added that they will have to first analyse the situation and identify the groups involved. Only the perpetrator’s symbols will be banned, he said.
On September 1, Bobi Wine launched the red beret campaign with the hope that the People Power Movement can use the one-week campaign to promote its identity. However, Barora advised him to be careful and make sure the symbol is not used by self-seeking individuals to put his organisation on a collision path with security organs.
“Bobi Wine should understand that wearing a red beret does not make one an ardent supporter of People Power because even criminals can disguise and use the red beret to commit crimes,” he said.
At the event, Kyagulanyi told politicians joining his movement, “If you are coming to join People Power, leave your political party, religion, tribe in your house, come focused on getting back our freedom that has been taken by dictator Museveni.”