July 1, 2008 / 9:20 AM / 10 years ago

Opposition alleges fraud in Mongolia vote

ULAN BATOR, July 1 (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters marched in Mongolia’s capital on Tuesday alleging fraud in a weekend election, and the leader of the opposition Democratic Party said he would not accept the projected outcome.

Mongolia’s election committee has yet to give the final result of Sunday’s vote, but the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) is believed to have won about 43 seats in the 76-seat parliament, or Great Hural, giving it a clear majority.

“We do not accept these results,” Democratic Party leader Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj told a news conference. “No one needs these kinds of results, and they will be corrected in accordance with law.”

International observers say that overall the election, in a country of vast grasslands and deserts that is a rare example of democracy in Central Asia, was free and fair.

But new election rules that changed the first-past-the-post system to one of multi-member constituencies have led to procedural problems and some confusion over how votes should be counted.

Elbegdorj said his party had called its candidates from around the country to the capital, Ulan Bator, where they intended to present details of election fraud.

A prolonged dispute about the results could further delay the ratification of long-awaited agreements that would allow production to go ahead on a massive copper and gold project, the revenue from which could change the country.

Both the Democratic Party and the MPRP, which ruled Mongolia as a Soviet satellite for much of the last century, say they support the mining agreement.

But the past four years of unstable, coalition government has meant neither has had the mandate to see it through parliament.

The election committee said it was doubtful it would give an official result by Tuesday. (Reporting by Lindsay Beck; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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