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AU Summit Opens, Libya Crisis Expected to Dominate Talks

African heads of state and various country representatives attend the opening session of the 17th African Union Summit, at the Sipopo Conference Center outside Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 30, 2011.
African heads of state and various country representatives attend the opening session of the 17th African Union Summit, at the Sipopo Conference Center outside Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 30, 2011.

African heads of state are meeting in Equatorial Guinea for the annual summit of the African Union.  The ongoing conflict in Libya is expected to dominate their two-day meeting.

Representatives from Moammar Gadhafi's government and the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) are both at the AU summit outside Malabo where African leaders will present their roadmap for ending Libya's crisis.

The proposal is being drafted by five African presidents - South Africa's Jacob Zuma, Mauritania's Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali and Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo.

It calls for a ceasefire and a transition to democratic elections. The Gadhafi government appears to accept the plan, but rebels want it to include demands that the Libyan leader step down immediately.

African Union Commissioner Jean Ping says the 53-nation bloc wants a peaceful solution.

Ping says while there are many issues before this summit, the African Union's deliberations on the Libyan crisis are unquestionably the most eagerly anticipated.

The summit will also discuss the continuing crisis in Somalia and the coming independence of south Sudan, where Ping says the African Union has played an important role.

Ping says the challenges are great, but because of the perseverance of the AU mediation team, there is now a final accord on security arrangements for the disputed Abyei region.  He urged both north and south Sudan to continue working toward all aspects of their 2005 comprehensive peace agreement.

The summit opened Thursday with a moment of silence in memory of two former heads of state who died this year, Frederick Chiluba of Zambia and Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic.

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