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African Union Summit Opens in Addis Ababa

VOA News
FILE - President Robert Mugabe waits to address crowds gathered for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015.
FILE – President Robert Mugabe waits to address crowds gathered for Zimbabwe’s Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015.

Dozens of African leaders are in Addis Ababa Saturday for the opening session of the African Union summit.

Zimbabwean President and African Union Chairman Robert Mugabe opened the summit, which this year focuses on human rights on the continent.

Burundi crisis

The crisis in Burundi is at the top of the leaders’ agenda. The African Union is considering a plan to send 5,000 peacekeepers to the country to contain violence that has killed more than 400 people. Burundi’s government says it will fight any foreign troops who attempt to deploy in the Central African country.

Burundi’s political crisis began last April when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he was running for a controversial third term. Human rights groups have denounced the government for cracking down on journalists and protesters in a bid to suppress political dissent.

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza (c) and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power (l) speak to the media in Gitega, Burundi, Jan. 22, 2016.
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza (c) and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power (l) speak to the media in Gitega, Burundi, Jan. 22, 2016.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in attendance at the summit, warned that “leaders who stand by while civilians are slaughtered in their name must be held responsible.” He said the crisis in Burundi required a “most serious and urgent commitment.”

Among the African leaders attending the opening session in Ethiopia’s capital were South African President Jacob Zuma and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

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