In Ethiopia, African Union marks 50th birthday as foreign dignitaries join celebrations

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Dozens of African leaders are meeting in the Ethiopian capital to mark 50 years since the founding of the African Union, a continentwide organization that helped liberate Africa from colonial masters.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn opened the summit Saturday, also attended by foreign dignitaries including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Founded in May 1963 by a handful of liberated African nations, the Organization of African Unity — as it was known then — was at the time preoccupied with ending apartheid in South Africa and colonialism across the continent.

Now the AU is focused on the political and economic integration of Africa.

The 53-member AU has been trying to emerge as a force for stability on a continent regularly troubled by violence, conflicts and coups.