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Mongolia Postpones Parliamentary Election Following Opposition Protests - 2004-07-03

Mongolia has postponed plans for new parliamentary elections in three districts, following opposition protests.

Mongolia's election commission says the new elections will be delayed pending a court decision.

The coalition claims it won a narrow majority in last Sunday's parliamentary elections. Party leaders were outraged when the election committee called for new elections in three districts.

A victory in those districts would allow the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party to retain its majority in the parliament. Samati directs the Samtmaral Center, an independent polling organization in Ulaanbaatar. He says the ruling party was stunned that the opposition did so well in the election.

Mr. Samati calls the current situation a stalemate. He says he thinks the ruling party will try to somehow strengthen its position during the delay.

The opposition has vowed to stop the new elections. Coalition members stormed the main state broadcasting facility Thursday, complaining they had not been allowed equal access to the media before the June 27 poll.

Both sides accuse each other of committing massive fraud before and during the vote, including transporting large numbers of voters from one polling station to another.

Saturday, the ruling party's secretary, Otgonbayar, repeated his party's position that it will accept defeat if it must.

Mr. Otgonbayar says his party lost its majority in parliament in 1996 and won it back in 2000, and he says whatever the outcome, it would be nothing new. He also says the party maintains its allegation that irregularities have taken place.

Mongolia's administrative court has asked both sides to present evidence before it issues its final ruling in the coming weeks.