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AU Summit Opens in Sudan

African Union leaders have convened their summit in Khartoum Monday with host Sudan's bid to head the continental bloc casting a cloud over the meeting.

Five African leaders have appealed to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to withdraw his bid to hold the AU chairmanship because of ongoing violence in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and two million displaced since fighting broke out in 2003 between government-backed Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, and rebel forces. Militia fighters are accused of carrying out atrocities against civilians.

The United States has accused Mr. al-Bashir's government of committing genocide in Darfur.

Human rights group have also been very critical of Sudan, and Darfur rebels have threatened to boycott AU-sponsored peace talks if Khartoum assumes chairmanship of the 53-nation African Union.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.