Page last updated at 21:49 GMT, Sunday, 29 June 2008 22:49 UK

Mongolia votes in key elections

By Michael Kohn
BBC News, Ulan Bator

Queue to vote in Ulan Bator
Voters chose representatives for Mongolia's 76-seat assembly

Voting has ended in Mongolia's fifth general election since the economic and political liberalisation of 1990.

Voter turnout was high after a long and gruelling campaign between the two main parties, the Democrats and the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party.

Both parties promised large public payouts from budget surpluses provided by the growing mining industry.

The 2004 election saw the two parties forced into a fragile coalition that produced three prime ministers.

New voting system

At a polling station in Ulan Bator's Sukhbaatar District, an election official announced an end to a long day of voting.

Election observers from half a dozen political parties carefully recorded the proceedings on video camera as the volunteers prepared to begin the process of counting ballots.

Voting at polling station number 23 went smoothly, the station master reported.

Mongolia map

Indeed, there were no major problems reported at any of the country's nearly 2,000 polling stations.

The General Election Committee said that voter turnout was high.

Their latest figures reveal that 74% of registered voters cast a ballot.

With polling over, activists from the Democrats and the MPRP retreated to their respective offices to await the results.

But a new multi-mandate system of voting means that ballot counting will take longer than usual, because each ballot will have up to three circled names.

Although results have previously been known by the morning after an election, officials warn that this one might take several days to sort out.

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