Mongolia lifts state of emergency

The Mongolian government lifted a state of emergency imposed after deadly clashes followed elections held June 29. The result of the elections, which the former Communists claim to have won, is still contested by the rival Democratic Party.


Mongolia has lifted the state of emergency imposed after deadly election riots hit the capital Ulan Bator, with the president Sunday appealing for calm amid lingering fears of further violence.

In a midnight (1600 GMT) televised address President Nambariin Enkhbayar called for unity after the unrest that left five people dead following allegations of vote rigging.

"We can discuss the situation lawfully without violence," the president said. "Everyone must work for the country. If you think something is wrong you have to discuss it peacefully."

A four-day state of emergency was implemented for the first time in Mongolia after the protests, in which the headquarters of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), which won the elections, were burnt down.

Prime Minister Sanjagiin Bayar late on Saturday said the government would take every step possible to prevent such unrest happening again.

"We should not resolve this crisis by fighting, we should work together and resolve this through legal means," he told journalists at a press conference broadcast on national television.

Ulan Bator remained peaceful early on Sunday, but fears of further trouble remained.

The heads of conflicting political parties had earlier met to try to resolve their differences, said Yondon Otgonbayar, secretary general of the MPRP.

"They agreed to refer allegations that the General Election Commission had not functioned properly to a parliamentary standing committee," he said.

Otgonbayar said the parties' secretary generals had decided to meet on Sunday to examine their electoral grievances and determine which complaints were worth pursuing.

"At least the MPRP is happy that discussions are going on, and everybody is trying to find a solution," he said.

Despite this, many people on the street still believed that the MPRP had stolen votes from the rival Democratic Party in the election -- allegations that caused the violence on Tuesday in the first place.

"In my opinion, there will be more protests because the election was unfair and dishonest," said Bayanbat Ganba, a 21-year-old bank worker.

Another citizen, Naraa Baatar, 19, said: "It is a very important time, and politics is not stable, and if these protests happen again, a lot of people could get hurt or could lose their lives."

Some hoped that a joint declaration signed by the parties on Friday, urging against any further violence and pledging to resolve their differences peacefully, would alleviate the tension.

Foreign Minister Sanjaasuren Oyun earlier said she thought the declaration would prevent any further unrest, although it would not stop politicians from rowing over the disputed poll.

Her view was echoed by some inhabitants of Ulan Bator on Saturday.

"We have a lot of arguments, and a lot of issues to resolve, but I don't think the protests will happen again," said Tulga Mendee, a retiree who was shocked at the violence -- the worst he had seen in 70 years.

It was still unclear how many of the 76 parliamentary seats were being disputed, but the law requires a minimum of 57 seats for parliament to function normally, according to Oyun.

The violence on Tuesday is seen as a particularly dark moment in Mongolia's recent history.

The nation shook off seven decades of communist rule in 1990 without a shot being fired, and the first elections were held in 1992.

Since then, despite its struggles with corruption and a growing rich-poor divide, the democratic process in the country of about three million people had proceeded without violence.


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