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African Union Calls for a Year of Peace and Collaboration

Heads of state and government officials from across Africa have gathered in Ethiopia’s capital for talks primarily focused on ways to end to regional violence, including the conflicts in South Sudan and Libya. The 33rd African Union (AU) summit, which opened on Sunday in Addis Ababa, is being held under the theme “Silencing the Guns: Creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development”. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is taking over from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as AU chair, announced on Sunday that he planned to host two summits in May: one focused on conflict resolution and the other on implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. “We will focus our efforts on conflict resolution across the African continent, especially those experiencing protracted conflict,” said Ramaphosa, who has has identified the conflicts in South Sudan and Libya as priorities.  Addressing the gathering, UN chief Antonio Gutteres said the world body’s partnership with the AU was “of paramount importance” and stressed the UN’s full support for the AU’s “landmark initiative” of silencing guns.