Saturday, July 5, 2008

State of Emergency Set to Expire

The state of emergency is set to expire this evening at 11:30pm. From the look and feel of things, however, you would think it ended Thursday morning. Since then the soldiers have been off the streets, and all the major roads have reopened. Some of the larger restaurants have remained closed because of the ban against public gatherings, and there is still a general prohibition on alcohol sales. However, other than these inconveniences the state of emergency has been a laid back affair, more reassuring than oppressive.

An article on indicated that experts have advised razing the MPRP building and constructing a new headquarters. It's strange enough to see that building gutted by fire, and I think it will be stranger still for it to be gone. I think this will have a significant psychological effect on Mongolian politics. Only time will tell whether this effect will be positive or negative.

The political fall out from the riot is just beginning, I am sure. This is in many ways like Mongolia's Hurricane Katrina. It exposed the social and economic injustice and the perennial failure of leadership in Mongolia, and it also jolted people, especially the politicians, into realizing that failed policies can have frightening indirect consequences when a perfect storm of events forms. The irony is that this election was probably the fairest and most transparent in Mongolia's democratic history, but the government has failed in its responsibilities. It is not difficult to convince some people that incompetence is an insidious form of political corruption, as opposed to an absence of leadership and vision. I am an optimist about Mongolia. It takes three steps forward for each step back, and I am confident that the vast majority of people will make the right decisions to turn this tragedy into an opportunity to take ever more steps forward.

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