07/03/2008, 00.00
MONGOLIA
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Tense calm in Ulaan Baatar as people wait for official election results

Police return to their stations; streets are calm with everyone waiting for poll results. The bishop of Ulaan Baatar urges Catholics to stay home for security reasons.
Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Calm has returned to the streets of Ulaan Baatar after rioting saw some 8,000 demonstrators clash with police overnight two days ago, which left five people dead, 300 wounded and 700 arrested. Martial law is still in place but police are back in their stations after patrolling the streets of the capital yesterday.

“The situation has stabilised and there is no immediate danger of violence,” Justice Minister Tsend Munkhorgil

Speaking to UCA News Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, apostolic prefect of the capital, urged the country’s 520 Catholic that it would be “wiser to stay at home” excusing them from the duty of Sunday Mass, should the state of emergency continue and real dangers persist.

“It was quite shocking to see military tanks and soldiers in combat gear positioned around the city centre, some key roads and the university,” Bishop Padilla added.

Final results are not yet in but the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) claims to have won 47 of the 76 seats, whilst the opposition Democratic Party supporters allege the poll was rigged.

“The election was organised well and by law. It was really fair,” said Purevdorjiin Naranbat, a spokesman for the General Election Committee.

A 16-member team of international election observers also excluded fraud.

Sandwiched between China and Russia is a poor country but is rich in precious metals and uranium.

For analysts the recent violent protests are due to the squeeze being put on living standards and widespread discontent with rising prices. Inflation last year was 15.1 per cent.

For years the country’s wealth has been put to bad use because those in power governed without taking into account other parties and the real needs of the population.

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