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FORMER WARLORD GAINS CONTROL OF LIBERIA'S POSTWAR PARLIAMENT

Former warlord Charles Taylor won an overwhelming majority in Liberia's first postwar parliament, the Independent Elections Commission announced Saturday -- the West African nation's 150th birthday.

The commission announced that Taylor, landslide winner of Liberia's presidential election July 19, and his National Patriotic Party had won 21 of 26 seats in the Senate and 49 of the 64 seats in the House of Representatives.

The victory gives Taylor, who launched the civil war in 1989, absolute power in both houses.

Taylor's closest rival, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Unity Party, won three seats in the Senate and seven in the House. Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf left for the United States Friday, saying she planned to return in August.

Another former warlord, Alhaji Kromah and his All Liberia Coalition Party won two Senate seats and three in the House.

The elections were the climax of a peace plan brokered by Liberia's West African neighbors to end the war, which killed well over 150,000 people.

Residents of Monrovia held parties and sporting activities to mark the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the republic by freed American slaves.

Former World Footballer of the Year George Weah, arguably the most famous Liberian, opened a nightclub in downtown Monrovia. The club, considered to be the biggest and glitziest in town, is called "the Old School."

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