Mongolians awaited results Friday of parliamentary elections that will help guide the country through a historic mining boom and the next step of its transition into a stable democratic state.
The opposition Democratic Party, which had promised to more evenly distribute the country's new mining riches, said it believed it would be able to form a ruling coalition in the 76-seat parliament with minor parties.
"We believe that when the result is announced we will have at least 36 seats (of our own). We expect to win the election," Democratic Party chairman Chimed Saikhanbileg told reporters.
But despite a new automated voting system that was expected to deliver the results of Thursday's election within hours, the Mongolian Election Commission had yet to make any announcement on Friday morning.
A commission official said there had been some delays in getting results from the more remote parts of Mongolia, a vast country of 2.8 million people wedged between Russia and China.
No timetable was given as to when those results would be known.
Thursday's elections were the seventh since Mongolia ended decades of Soviet rule in 1990, and the country has largely enjoyed a peaceful transition to democracy, albeit one marred by corruption among the political elite.
President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, who is a member of the Democratic Party, praised voters for helping cement the country's democratic credentials.
"I am proud that the people of Mongolia have cast their ballots in the seventh free and fair national parliamentary elections since our revolution," he said in a statement .
"On the heel of the election, we have moved further down the path of democracy and progress for this great nation."
Mongolia's economy grew by 17.3 percent last year, one of the fastest rates in the world, although the mining frenzy has only just begun to extract coal, copper and gold reserves that are believed to be worth more than $1 trillion.
However more than a third of Mongolians, many of whom hold on to traditional nomadic lifestyles, often complain that they are reaping few benefits of the boom.
They say corruption is worsening among the political and business elite, while foreign mining companies are being allowed to extract the resources far too cheaply.
"The mining industry is developing in Mongolia but the income does not improve my life," Lkagvaochir, a 42-year-old herdswoman, told AFP after voting in the rural outskirts of the capital Ulan Bator on Thursday.
"I believe that is because Mongolia has corruption... the winner of the election should fight corruption," said Lkagvaochir, who like many Mongolians uses just one name.
Many believe the ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) and the Democratic Party both have deep problems in this regard.
The parties ruled together from 2008 in an uneasy coalition until January this year, when the Democratic Party pulled out to prepare for the elections.
The MPP -- Mongolia's oldest party which held power during the Soviet era -- had campaigned on a similar platform of equitably distributing the mining spoils.
But its chances appeared to have been damaged by a split last year when former president Nambar Enkhbayar broke away to form his own party.
Enkhbayar was barred from standing for a seat in parliament after being charged with corruption, accusations he insists are fabricated and intended only to ruin him politically.
But although he could not personally run, his Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party was expected to eat into the MPP's supporter base.