By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 17, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A South Sudan parliamentary delegation paid a visit to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Saturday to discuss conflict prevention and peace building mechanisms with their Ethiopian counterparts.
According to the state-run Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency, members of the South Sudanese parliament said they hoped to learn lessons from the Ethiopia parliament’s conflict prevention mechanism and to discuss ways out of the current political crises.
During the discussion, the speaker of Ethiopia’s house of peoples representatives, Aba Dula Gemeda, said parliamentarians are close to the people and could play a major role in preventing escalation of violence through peaceful discourse.
Gemeda stressed a need for the South Sudanese parliament to thoroughly discuss and debate the causes of the current political crises and thereby find a lasting solution.
The parliament, as democratic institution he added has a key role to bring peace and harmony more than any other government body.
The South Sudan delegation expressed gratitude to Ethiopia for its help in bringing about a new ceasefire agreement signed last week between the South Sudanese government led by Salva Kiir and rebels led by former vice president Riek Machar.
Gemeda further said his country will work to make the South Sudan crisis central to the agenda during the upcoming parliamentary session to take place in Djibouti.
Fighting in South Sudan broke out in December after clashes erupted between forces loyal to Kiir and Machar. Much of the army (SPLA) has split between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer ethnic groups.
The violence has forced tens of thousands to seek shelter in United Nations camps for protection. The five-month-old conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 1.3 million.