Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mongolia - Election 2008 updates:Violence and Riots

So here we are, I get home after work and check the news and this here happens. Violence and riots. Around 20,000 protesters have gathered outside the MPRP headquarters and have started setting fire and throwing stones. Around 6.20pm today, violence erupted between the rioters and armoured police who have started shooting at some of the protesters with rubber bullets. Before the riots started, S.Bayar was holding a press conference at the headquarters and according to the last report on news.mn, the reporters are stuck inside. The Democratic Party is alleging election fraud and demand a recount.

International observers and media say that the election was fair from their observation, but unfamiliarity with the new voting system (multi-member constituencies) may have led to confusion and mistakes in the vote counts.

The official results of the election are not yet out, though preliminary results show a clear victory for the ruling MPRP.

Ts. Elbegdorj, chairman of the Democratic Party, is meeting with the members of National Security Council, who include President Enkhbayar and PM S.Bayar. Earlier today, around 6pm, the Democratic Party had requested for police protection of their headquarters, expecting counter-attacks from MPRP supporters who may blame the DP for inciting the riots. The riots are believed to be organized by Citizens' Movement group and Mongolian Republican Party.

As of 9pm, the situation outside the MPRP headquarters is not stabilizing as rioters continue to throw Molotov cocktails at the burning building. The police are said to be receiving further enforcements to deal with the situation and have started arresting protesters. A number of journalists and police have been injured during the clashes, though no numbers have emerged from the chaos.

10pm, President Enkhbayar has issued a press statement urging for peaceful and lawful resolution to the disputes. He has also hinted that as the President, he may be forced to declare a state of emergency should the riots continue.

10pm, the rioters have broken into the MPRP headquarters and have started burning the building from the inside. Around 70 people have been injured and taken to the hospitals.

10.40pm, Unuudur reports that those interviewed at the hospital claim to have been paid in cash and alcohol by the DP to join / incite the riots. Many of the injured rioters at the hospital are reported to be inebriated. The rioters earlier broke into the duty free store near the MPRP headquarters.

International news coverage: