As peace talks between the Lord?s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government continue in Juba, southern Sudan, the government is reportedly considering making direct contact with prominent leaders of the LRA. Vincent Otti, the second in command of the rebel group, has reportedly been in touch with senior government officials. Meanwhile, the possibility of direct negotiations with Kony was discussed in Maridi, a city in southwestern Sudan. Kirunda Kivajinja is Uganda?s minister of information; he spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about his governments? efforts to establish direct contact with the leadership of the rebel group.

?We had demanded that Kony himself and his top aides should lead the talks. So that whatever is agreed is conclusive and has no any other further court of appeal. But that one could not be attained because Kony and his top aides were jittered. They feared that there may be many forces and any of them could be abducted?. We understood and accepted the second option. But as far as we are concerned, as government, we are directly in talks. But there may be other people who are contacting him and it?s not the government. The government has got direct talks with him in terms of his delegation, but Ugandans who are anxious that peace is around and who may have their own ways of reaching him may be talking to him.?

Kivajinja explains that his government is unable to guarantee the safety of Kony and his top aides during peace talks. ?Now the question is that, first of all you know that the problem of sovereignty. The talks are being held in southern Sudan. The Ugandan government does not extend its territorial sovereignty so we cannot guarantee that situation. Secondly, in his atrocities, he has committed quite a lot of atrocities and many people other than the government may have personal grudges on him. So all these situations cannot be guaranteed by government.?

Kivajinja says, ?As far as we are concerned, from the report we have been receiving from Juba, the talks are proceeding. Because there were preliminary remarks, we have put our nine-point program, and they are also putting theirs. So they have been put up in an agenda and they are discussing one by one.?

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