- - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SOMALIA

Mogadishu residents flee warfare

MOGADISHU | Fearing renewed warfare, hundreds of Somalis are loading up small children and household goods on donkey-powered carts in northern Mogadishu, where Islamist militants are taking up positions.

Residents said Wednesday that fighters from al-Shabab are digging new trenches, a sign fighting may break out soon. African Union forces are moving into the neighborhoods.

Fighting broke out over the weekend and lasted through Monday, killing at least 20 civilians and one African Union soldier.

Seasonal rains in Mogadishu have added to the misery. A wide-scale famine in the country threatens hundreds of thousands of lives, and tens of thousands of Somalis who fled famine in the south now live in tents in Mogadishu made of sticks and cloth.

LIBERIA

Observers: Election proceeded peacefully

MONROVIA | Voting officials counted ballots Wednesday in Liberia’s second postwar election, pitting the country’s Harvard-educated president, who just won the Nobel Peace Prize, against a soccer star who completed college this year.

Official preliminary results are not due until Thursday, but a media consortium that had sent observers to a large number of polling stations said that incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Unity Party was leading.

With a little more than 160,000 ballots counted - representing nearly 10 percent of registered voters - Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf was leading with 50.5 percent.

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, who is Africa’s first democratically elected female leader, needs to get more than 50 percent of total votes to avoid a runoff, though most observers are expecting the race to go to a second round.

The party of former FIFA Player of the Year George Weah had about 40.8 percent, while former warlord Prince Johnson, now a senator, had about 8.5 percent, according to unofficial results tabulated by the Liberia Media Center and released Wednesday.

Mr. Weah is running as the vice president on a ticket with former Justice Minister Winston Tubman.

International and local election observers said the election on Tuesday was peaceful and there were no major breaches in voting and no serious incidences of violence.

Liberia is recovering from a horrific 14-year civil war that ended in 2003, and Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf shared last week’s Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent struggle on behalf of women and for helping maintain peace in Liberia since she took office nearly six years ago.

CAPE VERDE

Ex-leader wins governance prize

JOHANNESBURG | A $5 million prize for good African governance was awarded this week to the former president of Cape Verde, cited for turning his small island nation into a model of democracy, stability and prosperity.

In an announcement made in London and broadcast across Africa on Monday, the Mo Ibrahim prize committee said that during his 10 years in power, Pedro Verona Pires helped lead the nation of 200,000 off West Africa’s coast out of poverty and won recognition for his human rights record.

Last year and the year before, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation prize committee did not award a prize, saying no leaders met the criteria for promoting development and democracy - and for handing over power peacefully.

In citing Mr. Pires, the committee - which included Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt and former Ibrahim prize winner Festus Mogae of Botswana - said the Cape Verde leader, at the end of his second term, dismissed suggestions the constitution be changed to allow him to run again.

Mr. Pires said he was “proud” to receive the prize.

“It is recognition of my 50 years of wholesale and exclusive dedication to politics and the causes of independence and democracy,” Mr. Pires told the Portuguese news agency Lusa in Cidade da Praia, Cape Verde’s capital.

Mr. Pires, 77, retired from political life last month so he could write his memoirs, according to Lusa.

Mr. Pires was appointed independent Cape Verde’s first prime minister in 1975. He remained in the post for 16 years, then lost his country’s first democratic elections in 1991.

Mr. Pires was then elected in 2001 and again five years later.

“Cape Verde is now seen as an African success story, economically, socially and politically,” the prize citation says.

The prize, created in 2007 by Sudan-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, awards $5 million over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter.

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