Liberia

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.

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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.

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.