The president of Mongolia has issued a decree introducing a four-day state of emergency in the capital, Ulan Bator, because of rioting (first picture above) after Sunday's parliamentary elections. Public gatherings are banned and any such meetings will be broken up, according to the TV announcement, which also includes a ban on media except for Mongolian national TV and state media organisations.
The action was taken in response to the protests involving thousands of people in Mongolia's capital voicing outrage over what they claimed were rigged elections.
In the elections the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party won 41 of the 76 seats in parliament. The Mongolian Democratic Party has 25 seats and independent candidates have just one seat. Final election results are expected today.
Mongolia Web has reported:
"Protesters have set fire to the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) building (second picture above) in Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar. Fire trucks are trying to get near the site. Military and police are joining forces to control the crowd. Eagle TV shows images of smoke coming from the MPRP building and protesters trying to enter. Around 19.30 fire was coming from the windows at the ground floor, but the fire brigade seems to have controlled. "
In the meantime protesters look for the confrontation. Police men are shooting at the crowd with what seem to be rubber bullets."
Protesters have taken possession of bottles of a duty free shop and are throwing the bottles at the building while setting fire to the carton boxes."
Journalist Irja Halasz told Al Jazeera that the rioters had prevented firefighters from reaching the burning MPRP building.
"The police have withdrawn their lines back because of the rioters throwing a lot of stones, and at this point it looks like no one is in control," she reported from the building next to the headquarters.
"It looks like the rioters here have not heard the [president's] speech, they are going on and it looks like there is no end to it."
In addition part of the Cultural Palace, which contains an art gallery, a museum and a theatre, was on fire early Wednesday as violence continued.
The technically neutral President Enkhbayar -- previously with the MPRP -- earlier called an emergency security meeting that involved Prime Minister Sanjagiin Bayar and all opposition party leaders.
At the meeting, broadcast live on the privately run Eagle television, the MPRP-affiliated Bayar renewed his calls for restraint while blaming the Democrats for inciting the rioters after losing the elections.
International observers say that overall the election 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 confusion.
With an economy based on nomadic herding, Mongolia was heavily reliant on support from Moscow, but when this was withdrawn its financial systems quickly collapsed. The political system which was modeled after that of the old Soviet Union also went by the wayside.
During the difficult intervening period, the former Communists, the MPRP, and the emergent Democratic Party have competed for power.
Four years ago, they were pretty much forced to form a coalition, but in 2006 they broke apart again acrimoniously. Since then the MPRP has hung on to power through alliances with splinter parties.
Despite years of political unease, politics in Mongolia was relatively calm as long as the country was poor.
But that has changed, as the previously untapped and considerable mineral wealth of the vast Mongolian plateau starts to be exploited.
With a "victory" in the latest elections, the MPRP was expected to open the way for long-awaited agreement on how to handle billions of dollars of foreign investment in the country's mining sector.
According to the East Asia oriented web site Secure my Country, the previous broadly split parliament had failed to agree revisions to the mining law seen as essential to promoting foreign investment or to approve the long-stalled multi-billion dollar Oyu Tolgoi copper project backed by Ivanhoe Mines of Canada and Rio Tinto.
Mongolia's large estimated reserves of resources such as copper, gold, coal and uranium have drawn increasing international interest amid rising commodity prices and the rapid economic growth of China, the grassland nation's southern neighbour.
However, international mining executives have expressed deep frustration at slow progress in setting the terms of foreign involvement in projects such as Oyu Tolgoi and the Tavan Tolgoi coalfield.
Sumati, head of the Sant Maral independent political polling group, said before the rioting began the election result was likely to lead to early approval of the mining law and Oyu Tolgoi project.
The following is taken from Montsame Agency (Mongolia).
PRESIDENT DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY
Ulaanbaatar, /MONTSAME/. In connection with an emergency situation occured in Ulaanbaatar, President of Mongolia N.Enkhbayar issued June 2 at 00.00 a.m. a decree in frames of his competence.
Under his decree, a state of emergency is declared in the capital for four days.
The decree says, due to actions with use of violation of a group of people on the territory of Sukhbaatar district of Ulaanbaatar, mass disturbances are occurred. Forces of the law enforcement organs were attacked, material values were destroyed, and fires were set up in several objects. In order to eliminate consequences of the emergency situations and ensure the security of the population, the President of Mongolia declares a state of emergency from 00.00 a.m. on the territory of the city for four-day term.
The President orders to take the following measures:
1. To strengthen the security of objects of state significance.
2. Using forces permitted by the law, to break up any kinds of demonstrations and mass activities arranged with infringing the law.
3. To restrict the traffic movement in the central part of the capital and to check motor vehicles.
4. Using forces, to disperse and arrest persons and groups of people who break the public order and arrange actions with use of forces and to examine whether they have arms and technical devices.
5. To impose a curfew from 22.00 p.m. to 08.00 a.m. in the central part of the capital, to check persons breaking it, to arrest individuals having no ID cards with forces of the police or military patrol in the period until the expiring the quarantine or for 72 hours no long until the person will identified.
6. To ban the use of devices intensifying sounds, in case of necessity to seize them and to stop activities of all televisions and radios except the national public television and radio until the expiration of the state of emergency term.
7. To prohibit the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages.
8. To put control over individuals having firearms and cold steel, over entities and plants using explosives, virulent chemicals, and radioactive substances, and over military arms and techniques used in training.
9. To charge Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs Ts.Monkh-Orgil to organize actions for implementing the decree.