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Conflicts in South Sudan, CAR Dominate AU Summit

The African Union summit in Addis Ababa has opened with a call to resolve the violent crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The outgoing AU chairman, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, told gathered heads of state Thursday that failure to stabilize the two countries could cause insecurity across all of Africa.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns called on South Sudanese rebels and the government to seek a permanent solution to their conflict.

"The cessation of hostilities agreement provides an opportunity, but it is a fragile one and it is extremely important right now that the leadership, political leaders in South Sudan make a choice to move toward full implementation of that agreement because the alternative is further mistrust and conflict and human suffering."

Burns said the situation in the C.A.R. is a "huge and growing challenge." He called for serious efforts to end violence between Muslims and Christians that has led to a humanitarian crisis.

The AU will host a donors conference Saturday to raise funds for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations in the C.A.R.

AU deputy chairman Erastus Mwencha told VOA that Africa appreciates the international community's support in addressing security concerns, but that ultimately solutions must come from within.

"The main thing on the ground is to see that there is progress and to see that Africa is not only leading, but that those countries are assuming their own responsibilities. Because at the end of the day, this cannot be brought from external sources, it must be internally generated, and the effort of the African Union is to accompany those countries so that they themselves can move out of the crisis."

It remains unclear, however, how much member countries can do to resolve the conflicts.

During Thursday's session, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz replaced Hailemariam as AU chairman.

The summit of the 54-nation AU concludes Friday.

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