Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day Two of the State of Emergency

Last night was sort of a key test to see if the events on July 1 were an perfect storm of events not likely to occur again or just the beginning of more civil unrest to come. The night seems to have passed without event, or at least I cannot detect anything from the local and international media or my colleagues. It is raining this morning, and it does provide the redemptive mood that so many ham fisted film directors use to metaphorically tell the audience that the protagonist's soul has been cleansed.

Parliament held an emergency meeting as prescribed in the rules governing declarations of state emergencies last night. The first 10 minutes of the meeting were broadcast live on MNB, but a motion was made to close the meeting to the public. This was seconded and passed with a vote of 48 to 14, if my memory is correct. Although some international media outlets refer to MNB as "state television," it is technically a national public television station. The word state just makes it seem more ominous than it really is. The point of mentioning this is that the broadcasts from MNB so far have seemed to provide equal time to all parties, and it has not shied away from reporting on what happened on July 1. Whether they are being objectively critical, I cannot say, but they are certainly not trying to whitewash or ignore the situation.

The Election Committee announced the near final results (?) of the election yesterday. MPRP took 44 seats, the Democratic Party 27 seats, Civil Will Party 1 seat, Civil Coalition Party 1 seat, and an independent candidate 1 seat. The list of winners and their vote percentages are at By the numbers you can see that 2 seats are still not decided. I have yet to see evidence that provides a reasonable doubt that fraud was perpetrated on a mass level in the election. I keep hearing rumors from people regarding instances of fraud and some politicians are also talking about proof, but it all seems to start with "I know someone, who heard from someone, that someone..."

It is an exaggeration to say Ulaanbaatar is in lock-down. Life yesterday seemed to go about as normal, but I think people are tense and on edge. I can only speak for myself, however. It's more of the "unknown, unknowns" that Rumsfeld once referred to for me. There is really a sense of confusion about what will happen next, and there is a failure of leadership on the part of the government and the leaders of the political parties to put people at ease with reassuring actions and to quell irresponsible rumor mongering. This may be to due to the fact that even they are confused about what is going on and the extent of the unknown, unknowns the country faces. Although it sounds terrible, the state of emergency declaration was a good move on the part of the President, and I hope that he continues to show leadership by lifting the emergency in the next 48 hours after everyone has had a chance to calm down and gain some much needed perspective. The party leaders also need to work towards some sort of reconciliation within the law. I am hopeful this will occur, because I think the vast majority of people (including the politicians), regardless of who they want to place the blame on, were horrified by what occurred. It was completely antithetical to the way most people solve disputes.

Hopefully this will be one of my last entries on this topic, and I can return to informing you about library furniture and conferences.

1 comment:

Gabe said...

Without your posts it would be hard to get an idea of what it its like being there since there has been so little coverage in the media in the U.S. Thanks.