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African Union celebrates 50 years and looks to next half century

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African Union celebrates 50 years and looks to next half century

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The 50th anniversary celebration of the organisation now known as the African Union has opened in the the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, in the presence of foreign dignitaries including heads of state from outside the continent.

It began in 1963 as the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), born out of the struggle of many countries for independence from their colonial masters. It became known as the African Union (AU) in 2002.

The emphasis now is on the next half century: the agenda in a document called “Vision 2063” makes economic and social developments a priority.

Several countries have experienced rapid growth but many also remain among the most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Nigeria to respect human rights in its crackdown on Islamist extremists, while defending the country’s right to take action. He has also pledged to ease tensions between Sudan and South Sudan.