Calls by Mongolia’s ruling party for a recount of votes at some polling stations yesterday delayed results in sharply contested legislative elections that centered on how to spread the wealth from the poor but fast-growing country’s mining boom.
The Mongolia People’s Party said it asked for the recount because discrepancies turned up in vote totals tabulated by machines and then counted by hand at some polling stations.
The request sent political leaders to confer with the Mongolian General Election Commission, which had been expected to announce the results from Thursday’s voting yesterday morning.
The delay is a reminder of the young democracy’s bare-knuckle politics. The last poll four years ago touched off riots that left four dead after the opposition Democratic Party claimed voting irregularities.
To avoid a repeat, the government imported the electronic voting machines, only to have the main political parties ask that the votes also be counted by hand to corroborate results.
However, the ruling party and the opposition Democrats told voters they were better positioned to use revenues generated by mining mammoth reserves of coal, copper and gold to create jobs and narrow the rich-poor gap in the landlocked country.
Neither main party was expected to win an outright majority in the 76-seat parliament, likely giving smaller parties a role in setting up a governing coalition.
Mindful of the violence in 2008, ruling party politicians struck a measured tone, saying they would abide by the law, even as they asked for the recount.
“The election should run according to laws. The party election committee has complaints regarding vote counting and we are addressing the issues,” said Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold, who is also the ruling party chairman.
Mongolian People’s Party politicians said they found discrepancies in two polling stations in the capital, Ulan Bator. Party candidates lost in machine counts, but won when the votes were counted by hand.
The Democrats also cited delays in delivering results from 400 voting machines to the election commission.