KAMPALA - “The LRA rebels should be starved to death,” a nine-year old boy, who was speaking on behalf of children affected a 20-year war, appealed. Speaking to a Ugandan government delegation involved in peace talks with the rebels, the juvenile said the children would not forgive the rebels.
Opio, whose arm was amputated by the rebels in the war between government forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters, said they deserve a harsher punishment. Opio is one of thousands of children being brought up in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in northern Uganda. The rebels have maimed and abducted many children in the area. The children have also been denied access to basic human needs, in the same way as their parents.
According to Uganda’s State Minister of Defence, Ruth Nankabirwa, Opio and other children’s views will prominently be considered while concluding the ongoing peace talks.
The views will enable the LRA and government negotiate the mechanism of implementation of the Principles of Accountability and Reconciliation signed in Juba on June 29.
The government head of delegation at the talks, Ruhakana Rugunda, told a news conference in Kampala on Wednesday that the war victims requested that the LRA leaders including the organisation’s chief, Joseph Kony, face trial for their crimes against humanity.
The rebels are accused of gross human rights abuses including rape, mutilation, abduction and driving over a million civilians out of their homes.
The International Criminal Court at the request of Kampala indicted Kony and four of his colleagues implying that the rebel leaders had become international criminals.
“While some people proposed blanket amnesty, others are of the view that traditional and formal justice mechanisms be applied,” Rugunda, who is also Uganda’s minister of Internal Affairs said.
He also said the issue of the ICC kept arising during public consultations on the peace talks.
The peace talks between the rebels and government that started in July last year have reached the climax but seem to be hindered by the ICC’s insistence of trying the rebel leaders.Ends