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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.

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