Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mongolia Riots: Aftermath 4

The emergency Parliamentary session ended at 2am today. While there isn't a whole lot of information flow, one result is the decision to uphold the 4-day state of emergency. News.mn reports that the general atmosphere of the session was peaceful and cooperative. Personally, I am not quite satisfied with that. Here's why. The party leaders were in a rush to shift blames on to each other, and did little in terms of working towards a peaceful resolution of the election disputes.

Ts.Elbegdorj, once again, was in the news blaming the government for attacking and firing at its citizens. He is on the National Security Council along with PM S.Bayar and President Enkhbayar. While I was in favour of his proposals of industrialization and economic reforms (some of it, in any case), the pre and post-riot reports seem to show Ts.Elbegdorj's lack of experience in handling delicate situations. PM S.Bayar, while critical of Elbegdorj and the opposition during the pre-riot election disputes, kept something of a low profile amidst all the finger-pointing. As a Prime Minister, he has far more important things to worry about such as national security.

Unfortunate turn of events that will not do any of the parties any favours. What little public confidence there was in the minor parties and independents have plummetted, as the Republican Party and the Civic Movement are held, in public opinion, directly responsible for the riots. While the leaders of these movements remain unscathed, the police continue to round up civilians for the 72-hour detention allowed by the State of Emergency. Reports of police violence continue to come out of the detention centre at "Denjiin 1000". Photos show detainees squatting in groups in stress positions. Dailynews.mn reports that 4 people died from gunshot wounds during the riots, while the total number of casualties is 7. No firearms were found on those detained. Internal Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil said there were no orders to the police to use live rounds on civilians. As order is restored little by little, stories of police brutality and use of live rounds are starting to emerge. Currently, there are no official statements on the number of casualties.

There are worrying reports emerging of groups planning on a further demonstrations at the end of the 4-day state of emergency.

International interest in the Mongolian situation is increasing.

A statement was issued by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
"The Secretary-General expresses deep concern at the violence resulting from the recent demonstrations in Mongolia and regrets the consequent loss of life. The Secretary-General deplores the resort to violence to protest the conduct of the parliamentary elections last weekend. He urges all parties to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue, and appeals to all demonstrators to refrain from any further acts of violence. " (source: UN)

In Singapore, the daily free newspaper read by many, the coverage made the front headline.

The Russian government urged the Mongolian political parties to exercise restraint and solve the disputes lawfully.

Photos are also up on the BBC News site here.