Monrovia, Liberia With U.N. tanks and troops standing guard, Liberians waited in long lines Tuesday to vote for the country’s first postwar president, who many hope will bring stability to one of Africa’s most turbulent countries.
Turnout appeared to be strong, with some voters lining up hours before the polls opened in churches, schools and long-shuttered banks. Many sat on benches or huddled under umbrellas to shelter them from the broiling tropical sun.
Some 1.3 million Liberians had registered to vote at more than 3,000 polling stations.
“I’m voting for a better life, a better leader that can bring peace,” said Willie Miller, a 58-year-old unemployed man. “Years ago, the country was good … it was beautiful. Now we’re bad off, barely able to feed ourselves.”
Twenty-two candidates are vying for the top job in Liberia, in tatters after 14 years of nearly continuous civil war that ended with a peace deal in 2003. A transitional government has arranged the vote and 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers are keeping the calm.
One candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote or a second round run-off between the two largest vote-getters will be held in November. Results were not expected until later in the week.
Survivors remember Bali bombings of 2002
Bali, Indonesia Survivors and relatives of those killed in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings gathered at the site of the attacks today to remember the 202 people killed and to send a defiant message to the al-Qaida linked terrorists who allegedly carried them out.
Snipers were deployed on buildings and thousands of troops were stationed at beaches, resorts and businesses close to the site in the heart of the tourist district where militants blew up two packed nightclubs on Oct. 12, 2002.
Fewer than 200 people turned out today – many of them tourists dressed in shorts, flip-flops and baseball caps – in part because of tensions following the suicide bombings just 11 days ago.
The site of the 2002 attacks is a short walk away from one of the three cafes targeted Oct. 1 by the bombers in blasts that killed 23 people, including the three attackers, and wounded more than 100 others.
The al-Qaida-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah is accused in both sets of bombings, as well as two other deadly strikes in Indonesia in the last two years.
Guatemala raises number of missing
Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala Authorities abandoned efforts Tuesday to recover bodies from a deadly landslide and turned to international agencies to help feed, clothe and treat the tens of thousands of residents who lost everything in a week of deadly rains and floods.
President Oscar Berger and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu arrived in this hard-hit town by helicopter to the cheers of hundreds of people who swarmed Santiago Atitlan’s town square, a stone courtyard fronting a 17th-century church.
“We came to share the pain of all the people who lost loved ones,” Berger said after hugging the town’s mayor. “We are very worried about Santiago Atitlan, (but) I have the impression that we have never been as united.”
Also Tuesday, Guatemalan officials raised the number of missing people to 577 from 384, while the death toll remained at 652. Another 133 people have died in El Salvador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras due to the heavy rains, partly spawned by Hurricane Stan.
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