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Mongolia's losing presidential candidate demands recount

2 min

Ulan Bator (AFP)

Mongolia's third-place finisher in the presidential vote demanded a recount on Tuesday, claiming fraud after election officials declared he had narrowly lost a spot in a runoff poll next month.

"We should recount it, otherwise we lose our democracy," Sainkhuu Ganbaatar of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) told AFP.

His party officially filed a request for a new count with the General Election Committee and will make a similar demand with the courts.

The election committee delayed its announcement of final results from Monday's election until Tuesday morning, drawing the ire of Ganbaatar's MPRP, which cried foul.

Former judoka Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party finished first with 38 percent of Monday's vote, the General Election Committee said, short of the absolute majority to win outright.

Ganbaatar had been in second place in the early vote count but he eventually was overtaken by parliament speaker Mieygombo Enkhbold of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), who squeaked by with a 0.1 percentage point edge.

"We need to protect our democracy. They are violating people's votes. This is a serious issue," Ganbaatar said in a brief interview after announcing his decision to challenge the result.

Ganbaatar, who was a surprise entry in the election, is a former independent legislator and trade union leader.

His candidacy was endangered during the campaign after a video emerged allegedly showing him receiving a $44,000 donation from a member of the South Korean-based Unification Church.

At a press conference on Tuesday, he said a foreign person was on the election committee and influenced the vote, but he refused to elaborate on his claim.

The drama capped a campaign marked by corruption scandals that plagued all three candidates and overshadowed voter concerns over unemployment in the debt-laden country wedged between Russia and China.

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