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Calm returns to Mongolia after protest against election results

Troops pulled back from the streets of the Mongolian capital yesterday and political leaders called for calm as authorities lifted emergency rule declared this week after rioting over alleged election fraud.

There was no sign of the tension that gripped the capital, Ulan Bator, when stone-throwing mobs set the ruling party's headquarters on fire in a night of violence on Tuesday that killed five people and prompted the president to declare emergency rule for the first time in Mongolia's history.

"The political parties do not want renewed violence," said Y. Otgonbayar, chairman of the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP). "The primary task at this moment is to keep people quiet and bring back normalcy."

Workers were shovelling charcoal debris out of the MPRP's headquarters and authorities had erected a fence around the soot-covered building, but the security presence was light in Ulan Bator.

Of some 700 people detained in Tuesday's riots 400 were released on Saturday ahead of end of emergency rule at 1530 GMT, state television said.

Earlier, all parties held talks to discuss the impasse over last week's election, which has delayed the formation of a new government and dampened hopes for action to tackle double-digit inflation and pass mining agreements.

The opposition Democratic Party alleged fraud and pressed for re-counting and a possible re-vote in some constituencies, after preliminary results showed the MPRP won a clear majority in the 76-seat parliament, or Great Hural.

Democratic Party leader Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said smaller parties were also challenging the result in at least 19 constituencies. According to Mongolian law, three-quarters of the seats - 57 - must be filled for parliament to convene.

The election commission said final results would probably be made public on Monday at the earliest.