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Mongolian Election Appears Tied as Parties Dispute Result - 2004-06-28


Unofficial results in Mongolia's general election show a dead heat, and the question of who will rule this impoverished nation now rests on parliamentary deal-making.

After waiting through the night, supporters of Mongolia's opposition coalition cheered outside their headquarters Monday morning, as the alliance announced it had won enough seats in parliament to form a government.

But the situation is not so simple.

According to unofficial results, acknowledged by both the opposition and the former communists of the ruling party, each side has won 36 seats.

The remaining four seats in Mongolia's parliament, the Great State Hural, were won by independents and small parties.

Coalition spokeswoman Khanddolgor says this spells victory for her side.

She said that three of the independents were members of the alliance's coalition when it ran the government in the late 1990s, and that they are certain to join in a new coalition.

But the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party is crying foul.

Its leaders say they will challenge the results in several voting precincts, where they claim opposition candidates committed election fraud.

Speaking Monday, incumbent Prime Minister Nambaryn Enkhbayar spoke of coalition candidates who own businesses forcing their employees to change voting districts, so they could vote for their bosses.

Some foreign election observers say they did see isolated cases of this, by both sides. But they added that, in such cases, the voters transferred voting districts in accordance with election law.

The prime minister also repeated allegations that some opposition members used cash and gifts to buy voter support in Mongolia's vast rural districts.

But Prime Minister Enkhbayar has also repeatedly said his party would accept the final outcome.

"We have learned to be a loser, and we have also learned to be a winner," he said.

Mongolia, a former Soviet satellite, where statues of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Illych Lenin still dot the capital, has endured a rough 14 years, since switching to a market economy.

The average wage here is below 500 dollars per year, and the country's traditional nomadic herders are still recovering from a series of harsh winters that killed off vast numbers of livestock.

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