Mongolia's ruling party wins elections as rioting subsides

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Headquarters of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, which was burned in the riots.

Mongolia's ruling People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) has been declared winners of the country's legislative elections, two days after allegations of vote-rigging leveled against the ruling party sparked violent protests in the capital of Ulaanbaatar.

Preliminary results show the MPRP with 47 seats out of 76 in the State Great Khural, General Election Committee spokesman Nergui reported. The opposing Democratic Party won 26 seats, Nergui said, with the remaining seats divided between minor parties. The official results are expected to be revealed tomorrow. Nevertheless, the preliminary results indicate a decisive victory for the former communist party.

International observers say the vote was largely fair. There were some irregularities reported, but according to William Ifante, Mongolia director of The Asia Foundation, "they were in no way widespread" and the election "appeared to have been transparent and free throughout."

Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorj, leader of the Democratic Party, believes the election was "stolen".
Image: Vincent H. Miller.

This did not stop Democratic Party supporters from taking to the streets on Tuesday in protest of alleged election fraud. Rioters clashed with police, setting fire to the MPRP headquarters and a cultural center. Five people were killed in the violence, over 300 were injured, and around 700 protesters were detained. President Nambaryn Enkhbayar declared a four-day state of emergency in the capital, which will stay in effect until Saturday.

Calm has since been restored in Ulaanbaatar, although a heavy police presence remains in the city. "Life is steadily coming back to normal. Military equipment has been moved from the city and traffic restrictions have been lifted," said Justic Minister Monkh-Orgil. Protests have been banned during the state of emergency, but Democratic Party leader Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorj does not expect a recurrence of the violence.

However, Elbegdorj still asserts that the elections were marred by fraud, and he is demanding a recount. "I am deeply saddened that this vote was stolen," he said. "It was stolen and there needs to be a recount. The result is false."


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