07/02/2008, 00.00
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State of emergency in Ulaan Baatar. Hundreds arrested

Youth protest violently against election results. The ruling party is accused of fraud. Control of political power and primary resources at stake.

Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews) – Entire areas of the city have been isolated by police and are currently under surveillance following the president’s declaration of a state of emergency which will last at least 4 days.  The decision was made in the aftermath of protests which saw thousands of people accuse the government of electoral fraud.  Police used tear gas and charged the stone throwing crowds which had succeeded in setting fire to parts of the ruling party’s headquarters. Dozens were left injured and hundreds of young people have been arrested.

The electoral commission has yet to publish final results of the elections held on Sunday June 29th, but exit polls suggest that victory is in the hands of the ruling party, the People’s Revolutionary Party of Mongolia, (Prpm), born of the soviet era communist party.

According to the opposition Democrat Party the poll was rigged; but international observers maintain that the elections were free and fair.

This is the fifth election to take place since Mongolia adopted sweeping political and economic reforms in 1990.  In 1996 the PRPM was defeated by the Democrats; in 2004 the two parties were forced into a ruling coalition but split two years later.

Issues which divide the two political blocks include the privatisation of the new mineral resources recently discovered (gold, coal, copper).  The PD wants private industries to manage this newfound source of wealth; the PRPM wants it under state control.


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