International and African officials have gathered in Libya to mark the seventh anniversary of the creation of the African Union.

Leading members of the Islamic courts that control Somalia's capital are also attending Saturday's ceremony in the city of Sirte.

Islamic leader Sheik Sharif Shiek Ahmed is expected to use the opportunity to urge African leaders to keep foreign peacekeepers out of Somalia. He has said peacekeepers are unnecessary because order has been restored to the Horn of Africa country.

Earlier this week, hundreds of former Somali military members and thousands of civilians attended separate demonstrations to protest against the idea of foreign peacekeepers in Somalia.

On Tuesday, a group of East African nations said that they would send troops to Somalia as peacekeepers.

Somalia's weak interim government, based in the town of Baidoa, has requested the troops.

But Islamists who control Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia strongly oppose any peacekeeping force.

Somalia has not had a national army or an effective central authority since the fall of the last government more than 15 years ago.

Earlier this week, Islamist officials and the government agreed to eventually form a national army and to oppose any foreign intervention. The sides plan to hold further talks beginning in late October.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.