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Liberian Police, UN Peacekeepers Separate Rival Camps

Liberian police and U.N. peacekeepers have intervened in downtown Monrovia to prevent any unrest between rival camps in Tuesday's run-off presidential election.

Newly U.N.-trained Liberian police, wearing riot gear and wielding batons, pushed back supporters of former soccer star George Weah from the party headquarters of former finance minister Ellen Johnson Sirleaf late Saturday.

U.N. police were also present, with flashing blue headlights on their vehicles.

Disruptions started as Mr. Weah's CDC party supporters, coming back from a large rally Saturday, stopped in front of Mrs. Sirleaf's Unity Party headquarters, taunting her supporters.

The Unity Party then called caravans of supporters to defend its side of the street, according to one militant. "The CDC rally today and they come here to disturb. So we are just here to cheer our partisans, just to protect our area," he said.

But a supporter for Mr. Weah's CDC party says his chanting was just in good nature. He says he was impressed by the U.N. peacekeepers, known as UNMIL. "We don't have to get no dispute, everybody got to be one, so I got no problem with that. For me, I carry CDC, George Weah, all the way. UNMIL is doing a good job, because you see UNMIL all over trying to secure the place, so I see UNMIL very well," he said.

A bystander, Winston Eune, says he was also impressed by the newly-trained Liberian police. "I must congratulate our brothers, the new UNMIL trainees, they are there working in line with UNMIL trying to secure the area, you can see them before, they were never there like this, in the past our police only see them looking at people turning to riot before going there, but now they are preventing the area very soon. Everything will be under control and nobody will carry on riots. So, I am thankful for that," he said.

The winner of the decisive second round Tuesday, will take power in January, ending a transition period, following a quarter century of civil war and political turbulence in the small West African nation.

The head of the U.N. mission, Alan Doss, has warned his peacekeepers will act in what he calls a robust manner to stop any disturbances before, during and after the vote. The first round of the crowded 22-candidate first round presidential election was peaceful, but rival camps have become more polarized in the two-person second round race, bringing fears of unrest, especially after results are announced.