Africa celebrates progress and 50 years of 'unity'
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP) - African leaders on Saturday celebrated the African Union's 50th birthday against a backdrop of economic growth but also awareness of the armed conflicts and the other myriad problems faced by the continent.
AU Chairman and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn set a tone of optimism when he launched extravagant celebrations by urging leaders to "create a continent free from poverty and conflict, and an Africa whose citizens enjoy a middle income status."
But Saturday's party in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa will be followed by a more sobering two-day AU summit meeting to tackle the range of crises facing the continent.
Today's 54-member AU is the successor of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established in 1963 in the heady days when independence from colonial rule was sweeping the continent.