By Dereje Wordofa, regional director of Africa for the American Friends Service Committee

The presence of Secretary of State John Kerry at this month's 50th-anniversary celebration of the Organization of African Unity is an important opportunity to set a new course in U.S. relations with African nations. U.S. policies can make or break the great progress the continent is making in reducing armed conflict and increasing peaceful transitions to power.

The potential for peace and development in Africa is closer to fruition than at any time in recent history. Yes, the challenges of building credible, effective institutions for conflict resolution, reconciliation, and sustainable development will remain daunting. However, the search for sustainable peace can succeed with recognition and support for the civil-society organizations reknitting the fabric of resilient, thriving societies. ...

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