AU summit venue changed

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iol news pic Omar al-Bashir REUTERS Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

The African Union on Monday formally announced that it was moving its upcoming summit to Addis Ababa, after Malawi refused to welcome Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for the event.

Last week, Malawi's vice president, Khumbo Kachali, said the country would accept losing the summit over al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide allegations.

The southern African nation is struggling to rebuild its economy under a new reformist government that came into office in April. Malawi could face tough economic sanctions from key Western donors if it invited the Sudanese leader.

Malawi's decision was praised by Britain and human rights groups.

Addis Ababa is home to the headquarters of the AU, which is trying to negotiate in the ongoing conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, an issue that will likely be discussed during the organization's high level meeting next month.

The summit's dates remain July 9-16. The AU failed to elect a chairperson at its last summit in January and much focus will be placed on whether the 54-nation grouping can decide on who should fill the top job. - Sapa-dpa

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