Katharine Houreld

Football unites Côte d’Ivoire

Before the teargas canisters and burnt tires had all been cleared away, government supporters were embracing their opponents on the streets of Abidjan. For one afternoon at least, a passion even stronger than politics had taken over: football. On Tuesday, fans of the Elephants filled street bars, to cheer the national team to victory in the African Nations Cup.

Iron Lady’s peace offering

After days of demonstrations in the Liberian capital, the woman poised to become Africa's first female President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has offered to team up with George Weah, the former world footballer of the year she defeated. Johnson-Sirleaf has said she would like him to be minister of youth and sport in her next government.

Footballer vs granny

On the potholed and bullet-scarred streets of Liberia, a former world footballer-of-the-year is trying to beat a 66-year-old politician at her own game. Next Tuesday, ex-Chelsea and AC Milan player, high-school drop-out George Weah will go head-to-head with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a grandmother with a Harvard degree, in the presidential run-off in this war-ravaged West African country.

Nigeria: 10 years after Ken Saro-Wiwa

Ten years after the world watched in horror as Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists were executed by the Nigerian government on trumped-up charges the Ogoni people living in the oil-rich Niger Delta are little closer to justice. Nigeria may be Africa's biggest producer of crude but in Ogoniland oil from rusting pipelines contaminates farmland and police continue to attack residents.

Play for the presidency

Diplomats and civil society activists fear the second round of voting in Liberia's first elections since the end of the civil war will spark a flurry of behind-the-scenes deal-making that could compromise the new government. The National Electoral Commission announced that former football star George Weah and ex-World Bank official Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will face off for the presidency on November 8.

Eager Liberians brave the voting queues

Tuesday dawned as bright as the hopes of the Liberian people. Hundreds slept on the streets of the capital, Monrovia, outside polling stations, anxious not to miss their first chance to vote since former warlord Charles Taylor cajoled and terrified his way into the presidency in 1997.

Violence brewing in Nigeria

The arrest of Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, the militant self-proclaimed leader of the Ijaw tribe, has threatened to turn the underlying tensions in the oil-producing Niger delta into a maelstrom of violence. After the arrest of Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha on money-laundering charges, many feared that the move would inflame tensions between the Ijaws and the Itsekiri.

Feminine coup

Every week, the women in white can be found at Monrovia's dilapidated old airfield, praying for the safety of the Liberian nation. They gather by the hundreds, braving torrential rain or blazing sunshine, determined that God would never forget them again.

A costly lesson

Precious* was 12 years old when she first sold sex, to a man nearly four times her age. Now 18, the Liberian schoolgirl says she sleeps with between five and six men on an average day in order to pay her school fees, which are the cheapest available at $1 500 Liberian dollars per year. She receives between $25 and $50 for each man.

‘It’s easier to kill than go to court’

Below the official portraits decorating the office of the police commis-sioner in Rivers State, Nigeria, bright stickers cling to the wall. ''I am the apple of God's eye,'' reads one. ''Police for Christ,'' says another. But the pious slogans are unlikely to win trust from local people.

Equatorial Guinea prisoners ‘starving’

While international attention focuses on the 62 convicted coup plotters whose release was blocked in Zimbabwe this week, the 11 men still imprisoned in Equatorial Guinea may be slowly starving to death. This emerged both from prisoners’ notes smuggled out of Black Beach prison in Malabo and from a leaked report by human rights monitors.

Rebel with a cause?

Minni Minawi does not look like a warlord. The former primary school teacher is a softly spoken Sudanese, in a grey pinstripe suit. Yet 34-year-old Minawi is the military leader of the Sudan Liberation Army, one of two rebel factions locked in battle with the Sudanese government in Darfur. ''This [Darfur] is worse than Rwanda. This is not only killing, but starving, displacing, disease and poverty.''

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