Mongolia’s first-ever presidential runoff has been brought forward by two days to July 7 due to a traditional sporting festival, the country’s electoral authorities said Thursday.
The three candidates in Monday’s first-round poll fell well short of the absolute majority needed to secure the presidency, extending the drama of an election marked by corruption scandals.
Former judoka Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party and speaker of the parliament Mieygombo Enkhbold of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) were the top two finishers and will contest the runoff.
Both parties asked for the date to be brought forward due to the start of the long national Naadam holiday a few days later — Mongolia’s biggest festival featuring wrestling, archery and horse-riding.
“Political parties, unions and a parliament member demanded to make the second polling on July 6,” General Election Commission chairman Choizon Sodnomtseren said.
But “because voting ballots must be printed (and) voting machines must be re-programmed” the committee determined that the earliest possible date for the runoff was July 7.
The commission also plans to hold a meeting to discuss a vote recount request made by Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party’s Sainkhuu Ganbaatar, who finished third behind Enkhbold by a mere 0.1 percentage point.
Ganbaatar has accused the MPP of falsifying votes and colluding with a “foreign entity” on the commission to sway the results.
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