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AU Opens Key Summit Dominated by Conflicts in South Sudan, CAR

The 54-member African Union opens a key summit in Ethiopia Thursday, with heads of state facing pressure to help end fighting and the growing humanitarian crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Ahead of the official opening, the AU Peace and Security Council scheduled a Wednesday night meeting in Addis Ababa to hear reports on both countries, as well as a separate report on the political crisis in Egypt. It remains unclear, however, how much member countries can do to resolve the conflicts.

Last week, South Sudan's warring parties signed a shaky cease-fire, but witnesses say clashes between government forces and rebels are continuing. Thousands have been killed and around 500,000 civilians forced from their homes since fighting erupted last month. Analysts are also warning that the Juba government may be incapable of quelling the revolt.

The AU also will host a donors conference Saturday to raise funds for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic.



Unrest in South Sudan began in mid-December after President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup -- a charge Machar has denied. The United Nations says 100,000 civilians have fled to neighboring countries.

The CAR descended into unrest last year after rebels topped President Francois Bozize.

More than 1,000 people are feared killed since violence intensified in Bangui in early December. U.N. aid workers estimate that more than 900,000 have been driven from their homes.

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