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Former warlord holds key to presidential poll

A notorious former warlord has emerged as "kingmaker" in a Liberian election that grabbed the attention of the world this week when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the President running for a second term.

Tough test for Nobel Peace prize-winner in Liberia vote

Liberia goes to the polls tomorrow in a tense contest that pits this year's Nobel Peace prize-winner against a former world footballer of the year in a country still recovering from a prolonged and savage civil war. The incumbent, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, must see off a strong challenge from an opposition counting on the popularity of its vice-presidential candidate George Weah, who has a passionate grassroots following.

Ivory Coast war intensifies as battle for capital looms

Ivory Coast has been plunged back into civil war after a slow-burning election crisis developed into violence with forces loyal to the internationally recognised president-elect, Alassane Ouattara, poised to take the capital.

Chasing the Devil: The Search for Africa's Fighting Spirit, By Tim

It's not unusual in West Africa to see dancing "devils" entertaining a crowd of amused local people. Tim Butcher encountered one shortly after crossing the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia, and he describes it in his new book as a masked figure – the headpiece carved from a single piece of jet-black wood – with a floor-length raffia skirt. Everyone knows there's a human being underneath, but the "devil" is accompanied by a young man who keeps brushing its skirt flat to maintain the illusion.

Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family, By Jeremy Lewis

The group biography is a daunting task. Chronicling the life of a single subject is an exhausting feat of research, tact and elision. Bundling half a dozen lives in some factitious intertwining is asking for chaos. Only the freakishly energetic Humphrey Carpenter ever seemed to relish the experience, as he charted the heyday of Waugh, Powell, Betjeman and co in The Brideshead Generation.

Paul Vallely: On trial for brutalising his country and its neighbour

For the man right at the very back of the room in the dark suit and the expensive grey tie, the appearance of Naomi Campbell in court in The Hague yesterday must have been a welcome relief. For the past three years the focus in the courtroom has been fairly unremittingly on him. He is Charles Taylor, the man accused of war crimes in Sierra Leone.

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Welcome to Thebes, National Theatre, London

Moira Buffini is only the second woman to have a new work staged in the Olivier and no one could accuse her of failing to rise to the challenge. Her predecessor, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, dramatised the suffragette struggle for the vote in Her Naked Skin. Buffini, giving a modern twist to Greek myth and Attic tragedy, explores the plight of a female protagonist who becomes the first democratic president of a third-world country that is emerging from a brutal civil war. Ancient Thebes is re-imagined as a present-day African state, strongly reminiscent of Liberia. The play speculates on what would happen if Creon's wife, Eurydice, assumed power in an update of Sophocles' Antigone.

The supermodel, the dictator and the blood diamond at midnight

Naomi Campbell, Mia Farrow and Nelson Mandela in a tale of midnight assignations and blood diamonds delivered at bedroom doorways. The latest fantastical Hollywood screenplay? No, it's the latest twist in the bid to bring the west African dictator Charles Taylor to justice for war crimes.

Inside VICE magazine's alternative travel guides

Since 2007 the VICE travel guides have brought us some of the most unusual travel films around: From Beirut to Bulgaria, Chernobyl to Congo the guides have taken the viewer on journeys to surreal and often dangerous places.

Talent 2010: The photographer, Tim Hetherington

"Photography is dead in its traditional form," says Tim Hetherington. With the proliferation of digital culture, his view is that authenticity is now more important than style. "Many people can take pictures as good as mine but mine are more authentic because of my experience."