PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN MONGOLIA (Mongols say: “mordohyn hazgai” meaning the manner in which one mounts a horse determines the ride)This report is produced to present some facts and events to help understand the reasonsbehind post-election demonstrations and riots. An account of a witness who’s beeninvolved in this sector as team member on electoral system assessment, debates onelection legislation working with Women for Social Progress/Voter Education Centre andelection observer on ANFREL international observation mission in Thailand (12/2007)and Nepal (04/2008).The 2008 parliamentary elections in Mongolia held on June 29 ended in post-electiondemonstrations in Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan, Erdenet and Uvs aimag. Demonstrations inUlaanbaatar entailed riots and violence outside MPRP Headquarters (former communistparty) leading to declaration of state of emergency in the country. Violence outside theMPRP headquarters was initiated by sections of demonstrators, which separated frompeaceful, initially spontaneus demonstrations at the Sukhbaatar Square. Small politicalparty candidates and leaders led the peaceful demonstration on the Sukhbaatar Squareparallel to the violent events taking place at the MPRP Headquarters, a few hundredmeters away.PRE-ELECTION ENVIRONMENT: Parliamentary election was prepared and held undercontinuing criticism of implementability of the new Law on State Great Hural Electionand constinutional debate around its legality as well as constinutionality of some of itsprovisions. The Speaker of Parliament Ts. Nyamdorj was found guilty of unconstitutionalact of editing laws after final hearing and approval by SGH general sessions documentedin the Judgment of the Constitutional Court #06 dated May 23, 20071. While Speaker Ts.Nyamdorj resigned, the SGH made no decision to restore the final SGH approved versionof the Law on SGH Elecion and on December 27, 2007 delivered decision2 to conductJune 2008 parliamentary election under this unconstitutionally edited law.Unconstiuttional editing changes electoral system from “enlarged electoral districts” to“enlarged multi-mandate electoral districts”. Public discussion and debates aroundlegality of the law and the illegally introduced block mandate electoral system continuedthroughout pre-election period. This law suits the two big parties, reducing chances ofsmall parties and independent candidates to zero.Implementability of legal provisions of the Law on SGH Election was a topic ofdiscussions and public debate since 2007. The Supreme Court finally issued itsInterpretation #16 of Some Articles and Provisions of the Law SGH on March 31, 2008.This document provided legal interpretation on 47 provisions of 17 articles of the law.1 Constitutional Court Judgment #06, May 23, 20072 Resolution of State Great Hural #98, December 27, 2007
One interpretation of the Supreme Court of Article 27.4.3 which stipulated “candidateshall not be convicted” was interpreted to mean “has never been penalized (convicted)”trigerred heated protests and negotiations between the two big political parties, whichboth apparently had among their top-tier leaders and candidates numbers of people whohave been convicted of crime or penalized in the past, including MPRP Chairman S.Bayar. SGH pressured Constitutional Court to reject this interpretation of the SupremeCourt.The General Election Commission (GEC) has conducted this election unable to ensureimplementation of requirements set by legal provisions for: 1) final verified voterregister; 2) appropriate procedures and preparation for (block mandate) election; 3)registration of independent candidates as per law; 4) the right of citizens residing outsideMongolia to vote and 5) ballot paper with security features (barcode not verified) - allevidencing existence of further issues with implementability of the law.Issues related to the status of chaos with citizen registration and voter lists becameapparent early in March, when GEC posted the Register on its website for voters to checktheir status. Thousands of voters were not registered at all, while others were registered in2-3 election subdistricts. However actions taken failed to remedy the situation and ensuretransparency of election process. GEC replaced the Voter Register with a note advisingvoters to resolve their voter status issues with the local election committee, when thoseare established 15 days before election day. Civil Society Monitoring for Fair Electioncarried out an audit of the voter list in Election District #22 revealing the following:15,411 voters registered at current residence addresses, 17,266 voters not found atregistered addresses and 14,677 requiring update of their registration status (includesthose not contacted due to lack of contact info).In addition to not producing and informing the public of a final verified voter register,GEC made decision not to deduct the number of citizen residing abroad from the totalnumber of voters and printed ballot papers equal to the number of voters residing inMongolia, those residing abroad but not allowed to vote and plus 10% contingency(1,664,642). This is seen as key irregularity source at this point along with unauthorizedand legally unjustified decision by GEC to allow voters to vote without voter IDs, basingsolely on residence address registration on their citizen IDs.The legal environment, planning and preparations for election administration debated,questioned and criticized by national and internaitonal experts and public is theunderlying reason for lack of public confidence and trust in incumbent government, bigpolitical parties and MPRP dominated General Election Commission to hold free and fairelection.CAMPAIGN PERIOD: All forms of vote-buying had already started taking placebeginning January-February 2008. Complaints to the General Election Commissionreceived a surprising response that the GEC cannot take any action before election isformally announced.
Monitoring by civil society organizations concluded that election campaign wasdominated by MPRP and DP campaign materials, especially incumbent MPs running foroffice again (select documents in English are available on www.openforum.mn) Manycases of violation of provisions on election campaigning by incumbent MPs andministers, extensive use of public resources as well as campaigining during coolingperiod were discussed, decisions by district election committees recommending sanctionagainst candidates issued without however action taken by GEC.The multi-mandate expanded 26 election districts are 2-4 times larger and the campaignperiod is almost halved with what was allowed under the single mandate 76 districtelectoral system. This created an unfair condition for new party/coalition and independentcandidates. While incumbent candidates have started campaigning early in the year, newand independent candidates had approximately three weeks to reach voters with theircampaign. This larger size and shorter election period also had a negative impact on voterand election worker education.Independent candidates had to demonstrate outside GEC and protest through pressagainst restrictive provisions making almost impossible for independents to register ascandidate and begin campaining. Provisions for independent candidate eligibility andregistration consist of maze of days, number of supporters and forms required to register(Article 29, 30.8, 40.1)3 in addition to requirements applicable to party/coalitioncandidates. Protests forced GEC disregard requirement to collect supporter signaures on aspecial GEC approved form, thus again not following the letter of the law. Independentcandidates had much less time and opportunity to campaign compared to any othercandidate.ELECTION PROCESS: Vote taking process started in an idillic fashion as usual, wentfairly smoothely through the day until closing time. During the day Eagle TV and TMreported live from polling stations of irregularities: discovery and arrest of 58 new citizenIDs issued during vote taking at polling station.#11 in Sukhbaatar District4, including oneissued to a deceased man; thousands of new voters appearing in all election districtsregistered at existing and non-existent addresses.At closing time irregularities were reported from polling stations in the capital cityelection districts and rural areas: 1) voters still queued at the time of closing andprotesting refusal to take their vote; 2) large groups of voters rushing into polling stationsbetween 9-10pm; 3) power outages at two polling stations in Bayangol District (UB) andrural polling stations at the time closing, reconciling ballot papers and preparing forcounting; 4) election committee leadership reduced the number of party and candidateobservers to one per party regardless of the number of candidates to observe votecounting; and 5) sending out party and candidate observers to take rest (only MPRPmembers in the committee staying behind with ballot boxes).3 Law on SGH Election4 TM Channel live report, June 29, 2008, 9:50am
The first and by far the largest fraud opportunity was presented by General ElectionCommission decisions #1765 dated June 16 not to deduct the number of citizens residingoutside Mongolia from the list of viters and #289 dated June 29, 2008 (attached)6directing election committees to allow citizens to vote without voter ID and registrationin the voter register, basing solely on residence regitration displayed on the citizen ID.Decision #289 applies to election districts of Darkhan-Uul, Orkhon aimags and 6 electiondistricts of Ulaanbaatar. GEC decisions violate provisions of 27.1, 23.6 and 45.4 of theLaw on SGH Election. As stated in MP B. Munhtuya, SGH SC Chair’s letter7 thesedecisions were outside the mandate and authroity of GEC and seriously breach provisionsof Article 20, 21.4, 25.16 of the Constitution of Mongolia.This decision increased the number of voters from 5,500 to 7,100 and from 1,500 to3,000 at smaller polling stations. The number of voters per polling station, number votesto count and time required for this has presented more opportunity for fraud.The second opportunity for fraud was presented by procedures for vote taking and votecounting. Polling starts at 07am and closes at 10pm, with counting starting immediatelyafter reconciliation of ballot papers and continuing until counting is completed. There isno provision, which allows alternate election committee members and party, candidateobservers to meet the requirement of provisions 48.8 “It is prohibited to open ballot boxbefore closing time and to go on break during vote counting process”8. In the pastpractice, under single mandate electoral system, vote taking and night time countingwhich continued for 38 hours was a vulnerability both in terms of election fraud as wellas breach of Labour Law and human rights provisions9.The General Election Commission has not factored in the need to count 3-4 times morevotes under the new block-mandate system in its new procedures. It only announced thatelection committee members, party and candidate observers will be expected to work 60-70 hours without break. Many complained that they worked overtime for several daysbefore election-day and continued on to vote taking and counting process. Many electioncommittee members, party and candidate observers admit that they cannot be sure ofwhat was taking place during vote counting, some refusing to sign committee reports andprotocols.POST-ELECTION PROCESS:There are many issues again with legality and constitutionality of the actions taken by thestate.5 GEC, Official Letter #176, June 16, 20086 GEC, Official Letter #289, June 29, 20087 SGH Standing Committee Chair B. Munhtuya, Official Letter #5/4469, July 3, 20088 Law on SGH Election, Article 48.89 UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 7.4
First and foremost issue raised by human rights watch organizations is that shooting atthe crowd started without warning (July 1, Eagle TV live coverage) around 6pm rightafter MPRP Chairman S. Bayar’s press statement and without giving any opportunity toinnocent demonstrators and standbyers to pull out.The Presidential Decree10 announcing a state of emergency breached Article 19.2 of theConstitution stipulating: "In case of state emergency or martial law, the human rights andfreedoms defined by the Constitution and other laws shall be subject to limitation only bylaw. Such law shall not affect the right to life, freedom of opinion, conscience andreligion, as well as the right not to be subjected to torture, inhumane and crueltreatment”11.Freedom of information and expression was restricted by this decree to one singlegovernment-controlled MNTV. Human rights organizations established Human Rightsunder State of Emergency Monitoring and Protection Coalition, which reports12 ofviolation of all basic human rights, including the right not to be subjected to torture andinhuman treatment.The statement expresses concern over announcement of the state of emergency aroundmidnight and beginning arrests and shooting regardless of the fact that at 12pm manypeople and especially those on the site may not be watching TV news. Mongolia neverhad civil unrests in its recent past and therefore there is no experience and knowledgeamong the population of what “state of emergency” means, especially that it couldinclude shooting at moving objects with combat bullets, arrests and detention of those inthe streets immediately after its announcement.The state (MPRP) has not made an attempt to warn its people, give opportunity to pullout and come to senses both in taking action immediately upon declaration of state ofemergency and shooting at the crowd earlire in the evening.The population is still in a state of shock over closure of all TV stations but thegovernment controlled MNTV, continuing arrests, threats, torture and inhumanetreatment.Information is fully censored by MPRP. The only available TV channel transmits piecesprepared by MPRP aimed at identifying and arresting those who were involved in riots.700 people were arrested, most of them young people and underage boys. Fabrication offacts and information went as far as using a retarded man (July 4th MNTV) in detentionwearing a surprisingly clean Magnai hat, to state candidate O. Magnai paid him MNT 1million (around US$858) to participate in the riot. Later the Association of Blind made astatement that this man has documented legal incapacity status and that he is being usedto forge case against opposition candidates. Candidate O. Magnai was arrested on July 5th10 Century News, #160 (2920) 2008.07.0311 Constitution Of Mongolia, 1992, Article 19.2, page 912 HRSEMPC, Statement, July 6, 2008 (attached)
on charges of initiating civil unrest with proposed death penalty or 25 years ofimprisonment.Candidate J. Batzandan, Chairman of Civic Movement Party, is arrested on same chargesof initiating social unrest with already proposed death penalty or 25 years ofimprisonment for engaging in acts leading to death of other individuals.S. Bayar, MPRP Chairman and incumbent PM, in his speech on July 5th and in pressinterviews called upon MPRP members and supporters to express themselves and amongother things stated that those who failed to perform their duties well be penalized andthose did well will be rewarded.Due to post-election riots and the state of emergency there is no formal information fromthe General Election Commission on the number of complaints and decisions related oncomplaints received before election-day; any information related to post-electioncomplaints and their status. Under the circumstances it is not possible to obtain full andtrue information regarding election related complaints. No information is made availableon the GEC website.On July 8th candidates L. Odonchimed (MPRP), Ts. Ganhuyag (CWP) and B. Tsogtgerel(New National Party) held a press-conference announcing publicly facts about electionirregularities, inaction of GEC and demand for re-election in Election District #24.Below we provide a list of issues and complaints collected from small parties, candidatesand press, which have been submitted to district election committees and GEC with littleor no action taken. Due to incompleteness of information we will not make attempt todraw conclusions or analyze but rather list facts of complaints as is.Election District #7: Candidates M. Zorigt and M. Choidorj from Civil Will Party(parliamentary party led by incumbent Minister of Foreign Affairs S. Oyun) submittedcomplaints to GEC on irregularities in Election District #7 (Dornod aimag). Irregularitieslist:1) inability of district election committee to reconcile number of unused ballot and plasticbags for sealing ballot papers;2) discovery of 320 signed and stamped ballot papers and 404 undestroyed ballot papers(cut off upper right corner) in ballot boxes delivered to the District Election Committee;3) counting votes on unsigned/unstamped ballots as valid;4) at polling station #45 (Baga 3) the number of ballots with votes exceeded the numberof voters registered; Election District Committee disregarding requirement to holdmeetings in open and transparent manner with party and candidate observers present helda closed meeting on July 2nd from 11am through 03am (15 hours) the following day;5) demand to receive a written response according to law was satisfied only in terms of awritten form, with its content differing from that of delivered verbally and which was notsigned by half of committee members, who protested the decision;6) none of the above developments were documented in the EC protocols.
Election District #23 – District Election Committee report to GEC lists the followingchallenges:1) Voter Register and voter lists provided by GEC and National Centre of CitizenRegistration Database (NCCRD) contains many redundancies, registers many citizenswho do not live at listed addresses, did not eliminate “open” address registrations;2) appointment of horoo (lowest administrative unit/local government) organizers inelection committees by MPRP created difficulties in the work of election committees;3) Distribution of new and fake (proven by Police Department) citizen IDs and change ofresidence address through election day created challenges.Under irregularities the Election District Committee listed:1) At polling station #11 a total of 52 new citizen IDs were seized and checked revealingregistration of citizens at addresses which do not exist, including ID issued to a deceasedman;2) Reports on attempts to buy members of election committee have not been confirmed,however S. Zorigtbaatar, member of election committee for polling station #2, reportedattempt to buy him and the document has been sent to Anticorruption Agency.3) Usual allegations regarding distribution of money, alcohol and tobacco have beenchecked and were necessary documents transferred to Police for further investigation.4) Fake residence registration was reported from Polling Station #2. Voter B. Burneecame to the District Election Committee to present evidence of fake citizen ID, whichwas transferred to Police for further investigation.Sukhbaatar District Democratic Party complaint to the District Election Committee lists: 1) Horoo governors distributing citizen ID with fake addresses and registration data. 2) Ch. Handsuren, Chair of Polling Station #11, was caught distributing citizen IDs of which 60 were arrested with police assistance. 3) Huhuu, chair of Polling Station Committee #12 was caught damaging a valid citizen ID of citizen B. Uyanga as well as was drunk at the time of submitting final vote count report. 4) A minivan (HAA 63-49 license plate) transported voters from Nalaikh to vote at Polling Station #15 of Sukhbaatar District (UB). This event was video–taped and reported on TV.Election District #24MPRP candidate, incumbent MP L. Odonchimed in his complaint filed to ElectionDistrict Committee list the following irregularities as justification for re-count13:1). At polling station #14, in the process of recounting votes for L. Odonchimed 500votes have been left uncounted.2). At polling station #12 voter Mr. Sodmagnai found that someone had already voted inhis stead.3). At polling stations #11, 20 around 21.40 hours some 500 voters broke in and votedwithout presenting any identification documents.13 MP L. Odonchimed Official Letter, #7/4461, July 1, 2008
Civil Will Party complaint on irregularities in Election District #2414 states that as resultof GEC press conference statement made at the Chamber of Commerce Hall that: a)“citizens will be allowed to vote without voter IDs based on residence registration at thegiven locality”; b) “voters shall vote for the number of mandate allotted to the district”disregarding Supreme Court interpretation that “voters shall be allowed to vote for anynumber of candidates not to exceed the number of mandates” ; c) “issuance of votermandates during vote-taking” are a serious breach of 9.3, 23.1 and 37.11.12 of the Lawon SGH Election resulting in the following irregularities as justification for re-count:1). At polling stations ##11, 16, 17, 18 around 300-350 persons in each polling stationvoted between 21-22 hours people without voter IDs. This was organized andtransported by bus and minivans.2). Citizen and voter IDs issued on election-day.3) Irregularities in vote counting.4) Harassment of election committee non-MPRP members, party and candidate observersby committee chairs and secretaries. At polling station #9, CWP observer Minjee wasdismissed by committee secretary for evidencing that some voters with fake IDs were herneighbors.Democratic Party candidate R. Burmaa15 and Ts. Elbegdorj (DP Chairman) submitted acomplaint to the Election District Committee listing below irregularities as justificationfor re-count:1). In violation of provisions 23.1, 23.6 and 45.4 of the Law on SGH Election allowedvoting at all polling station without voter IDs and residence registration in this district aswell as issued fake residence registration.2) Provision 48.1 stipulating that counting shall start at 22.oo hours and will continuewithout break, procedure for ensuring implementation of this provision and requirementto document counting process ob video were all violated.3) Counting irregularities include: use of pencils and whiteout instead of blue ink pen atpolling station #14; an observer was allowed to count votes at polling station #22; twelveballot papers missing at polling station #8.4). 66 votes not reconciled; 30 ballot papers are suspected to have been replaced andrequest for expert analysis of signatures not satisfied.5). Provisions 46.4.8, 46.4.9 and 46.4.10 on creating environment for observers toobserve vote taking and counting process has not been implemented.6). Over 20 hours of counting process had negative impact on the ability of all involvedin the counting process to perform with error.This is a list of irregularities reported by various parties in various election districts and istherefore far from showing the complete picture. But it does direct at several irregularitieswhich could have had serious impact on the outcome of election results.14 CWP Official Letter #886, July 2, 200815 R. Burmaa, Complaint dated July 4, 2008 to GEC and District Election Committee
It is obvious that holding elections without a verified, open and transparently publicizedvoter register was a violation of the law.Decision to allow citizens to vote without voter ID, which are issued by the district ofresidence, is a clear violation of law.It is also obvious that not deducting the number of voters residing outside Mongolia (whowere not allowed to vote this time, again in violation of the Law on SGH Election) andadding 10% contingency gave GEC and local election committees thousands of extraballot papers.In order to make use of the above decision (or vice versa) fake citizen ID were printedand distributed throughout Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet and Darkhan election districts (8election districts).Election committee members working for over 38 hours, party and candidate observersnot allowed to observe meaningfully the counting process evidences that conditions forerror and fraud-free counting were not secured.There is enough evidence that election process was not free of error and fraud, whichwould serve as justification for re-election. But opposition is careful about demanding re-election after the establishment of information control by MPRP and several days ofbrainwashing of the nation with falsified information about opposition parties andcandidates initiating riot and looting, even the shooting.SUKHGEREL, Dugersuren