Monday, July 7, 2008

Unanswered Questions

Since the end of the state of emergency, the political situation in Mongolia has been uncomfortable to say the least. I can honestly say that this is the first time we have been in a situation like this, where the road ahead was as murky and foggy as the streets of Ulaanbaatar during winter evenings. There are many questions that remain unanswered, the obvious being "Will there be a re-election?" And other questions, the answers to which we may never know:

- Why did the government let the situation deteriorate for more than 4-5 hours? Sure, we were not prepared for the situation, a statement echoed by all officials. But this unprepared? The more one ponders over this, the less satisfactory the explanation becomes.
- If the riots were planned and pre-meditated, then who was behind them? Why did they, whoever they may be, steal the hard disks from the MPRP HQ?

As far as elections being unfair and campaigns marred by rumours of cash handouts and ID frauds, I would not be surprised. But is this exclusive to the MPRP? I hardly think the MPRP was the only party throwing around cash during the pre-election campaigns. It is a fairly common practice.

So.. today, the Subcommittee on Human Rights (under the Standing Committee on Law) held a press conference, the 5 members of which include the DP MP E.Bat-Uul. MP Bat-Uul stated that the President's decision to declare the state of emergency violated the Consitution of Mongolia and the rights of its citizens. He went on to criticize the media black-out and the lack of response from the subcommittee (on human rights) on the human rights violations. Another worrying news is that there are 72 civilians missing since the riots. While Ms. Solongo of the National Human Rights Commission had visited the detention centres a number of times and found no violations of human rights, the human rights groups at the meeting voiced concern over the large number of reports coming from those released from detention centres regarding the use of physical violence, threats and intimidation by the police.

E.Bat-Uul proposed to have this issue brought up during the open Parliamentary session, which was supported by the other members on the subcommittee.

The Democratic Party is now proposing a motion to demand the resignation of S.Bayar's government and the chairman of the General Election Committee.

The DP candidates from Songinokhairkhan district have also accused S.Oyun, Foreign Minister and chairwoman of the Civil Will Party, of conspiring with the MPRP candidates to fix the election results. Ms.Oyun has released a press statement denying all allegations, pointing out that the electoral committee in this district was run by majority MPRP and DP reps, while the Civil Will Party had only one rep on the committee.

Bayangol district voters have organized a citizens' committee to demand a re-election, and have started collecting signatures for their petition. So far they have collected 1,000 signatures. No figures were mentioned in the report on the total number of registered voters in the district.

And lastly, have published a transcript of what they claim to be a chat between their reporters and O.Magnai while he was in hiding before his detention. In the transcript (in Mongolian), O.Magnai claims that he was shot at by two people in plain clothes on Saturday, and that he had decided to turn himself in for questioning out of fear for his life. (What I found bizarre was that the transcript had published the chat ID's of both parties. I have tried adding O.Magnai's YM ID on my Yahoo! messenger, and it worked. I then swiftly deleted it from the invite list. Seemed like the logical thing to do. For one thing, what am I supposed to chat with him about? For another, I do not want to get detained soon as I return to Mongolia and explain why my name is on O.Magnai's contact list. )

O.Magnai is the 26-year old (?) deputy chair of the Civil Movement Party. He turned himself in on Monday, and after 6 hours of questioning, has been transferred to a Tuv aimag detention centre. The head of Civil Movement Party, Batzandan is currently at "Gants Hudag" detention centre, and is reported to be on a hunger strike. The government has denied any knowledge or formal declaration of his strike from Mr.Batzandan.

The chaos and confusion continue..