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Mongolia calm after election riots

  • Story Highlights
  • Calm return to Mongolian capital after post-election political violence
  • Officials set to release official results from weekend's parliamentary election
  • Demonstrators were upset about prospect of victory by ruling party
  • Five people were killed, Asia Foundation official cites reports as saying
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By Saeed Ahmed
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(CNN) -- Calm returned to the Mongolian capital Thursday after a post-election political rally descended into violence.

Officials were expected to release final results from the weekend's parliamentary election Thursday or early Friday, Bat Dileg Chulunbaatah of the Foreign Affairs Ministry told CNN.

The capital city of Ulaanbaatar was in the second day of a four-day state of emergency after thousands of protesters, alleging election fraud, clashed with police late Tuesday. The rioting left five people dead and injured 220.

Late Wednesday, the election commission announced preliminary results on national television, and those results indicated that the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party was expected to capture most of the seats.

The party, in turn, said it will not declare victory until the count is complete and approved by the president, said William Infante, Mongolia director for The Asia Foundation.

The non-profit organization -- which seeks to bolster democratic institutions -- met with the party's general secretary Monday night and "he indicated a possibility for the MPRP to win as many as 43 seats," Infante told CNN.

That number would give the ruling party a clear majority in the 76-seat parliament.

International observers said the election was free and fair.

The Asia Foundation, which sent 24 teams to observe 200 polling stations, said while there were some isolated instances of voting irregularities, "they were in no way widespread."

"The processes appeared to have been transparent and free throughout," Infante said. "Other international observers came away with the same view."

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But the prospect of a victory by the ruling party upset supporters of opposition political parties, who took to the streets by the thousands. Video Watch as protesters mob the ruling party headquarters »

The political rally descended into violence, as rioters clashed with police and set fire to the MPRP headquarters and a cultural center, according to the state news agency Montsame.

The rioting left five people dead and 220 injured. One person died of smoke inhalation inside the party headquarters, Montsame reported.

President Nambaryn Enkhbayar declared a state of emergency in the capital of Ulaanbaatar. The government issued a 10 p.m.-to-8 a.m. curfew that is expected to last until Saturday.

By Thursday, calm had returned to the streets. A heavy deployment of police and soldiers restricted traffic in the central part of the city, said a staffer with the state-owned newspaper, The Mongol Messenger.

"At this juncture, there is no reason to expect there will be a resumption of violence," Infante, of The Asia Foundation, added.

Mongolia, sandwiched between China and Russia, won its independence from Chinese rule in 1921 with the backing of the Soviet Union.


A communist regime was installed in 1924. It made a peaceful transition to democracy in the early 1990s and the ex-Communist MPRP has won most of the parliamentary elections held since then. All those races were free and fair, and passed without incident, Infante said

The landlocked country, slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Alaska, is trying to modernize its agrarian economy. This year, both the two main political parties focused their campaigns on how to tap recently discovered mineral deposits.

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