Two bitter political rivals in Mongolia have joined forces to form a coalition government that will rule the resource-rich nation for the next four years. The centre-left Democratic party, which won the recent election but fell short of an outright majority in parliament, agreed to form a coalition that includes the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary party, a breakaway party headed by Nambaryn Enkhbayar, the former head of state who is facing trial for corruption. Mongolia’s $10bn economy is one of the fastest-growing in the world and it sits atop vast reserves of copper, coal and gold. Many of those deposits are just starting to be developed, and the government that sits in power for the next four years will play a key role in shaping the direction of mining policies and the development of natural resources that are coveted by Mongolia’s larger neighbours, Russia and China.
Articles about voting issues in Mongolia.
Nine political parties in Mongolia, including the ruling Mongolian People’s Party, have signed a petition demanding a vote recount and rejecting as unconstitutional an electronic voting system used for the time in the country’s parliamentary elections on Thursday. The automated system was introduced to ensure Mongolia’s elections were free of corruption, but it has been plagued by technical problems and results that were supposed to be announced hours after polling stations closed two days ago are yet to be made public. According to Al Jazeera, the Mongolian People’s Party and eight smaller parties are calling for a vote recount and for a return to the old way of counting votes by hand.
The opposition Democratic Party edged out Mongolia’s ruling party in a tightly contested legislative election that centered on how best to use the wealth generated by the still poor but fast-developing country’s mining boom. It was not yet clear if the Democrats would win an outright majority in the 76-seat parliament. The party won 20 of the 48 seats awarded by outright majority in Thursday’s vote, compared with 15 for the ruling Mongolian People’s Party and fewer seats for two other parties, results released Friday by the General Election Commission showed. Under a new system, the remaining 28 seats are awarded based on the parties’ proportion of the overall vote, giving the Democrats a commanding but not a decisive edge in the new parliament. A coalition government between the major parties or with smaller parties would likely perpetuate slow policy-making and partisan bickering that has characterized Mongolia’s fledgling democracy.
Calls by Mongolia’s ruling party for a recount of votes at some polling stations Friday delayed results in sharply contested legislative elections that centered on how to spread the wealth from the poor but fast-growing country’s mining boom. The Mongolia People’s Party said it asked for the recount because discrepancies turned up in vote totals tabulated by machines and then counted by hand at some polling stations. The request sent political leaders huddling with the General Election Commission, which had been expected to announce the results from Thursday’s voting on Friday morning.
Mongolians will vote on Thursday to elect a new parliament which will have the task of distributing the spoils of a mining boom that has brought rapid growth but also rising inequality to the resource-rich nation. Mongolia’s economy has exploded in recent years, as a relatively stable political environment has drawn in foreign investors keen to exploit its vast untapped reserves of coal, copper and gold. Foreign investment quadrupled last year to nearly $US5 billion, according to government data, but little of that has trickled down to the poorest of Mongolia’s 2.8 million people. The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party both say they want to ensure a fairer distribution of wealth in the vast and remote nation, although neither has given any detailed indication of how.
It appears that President Elbegdorj has gotten his way and former President Enkhbayar will not be able to stand in the parliamentary elections this coming Thursday. Enkhbayar’s appeal to the Constitutional Court will not be heard until tomorrow, a mere two days before the election. At that point, the Constitutional Court will decide whether or not to even accept and review his petition. With the way things have been handled thus far, Enkhbayar will not be a candidate for his Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. One would think that corrupting the democratic process to this point would be enough, but the current Mongolian government has gone even further. The Sukhhbaatar District Court has ruled that Enkhbayar cannot leave the city until his trial thereby preventing him from campaigning for his party in the countryside, Elbegdorj’s homeland.
Depending on whom one believes, Mongolia’s former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar is either a champion of democracy targeted for judicial persecution by an increasingly authoritarian regime or he is a corrupt charlatan whose finely crafted portrayal of martyrdom hoodwinked Washington, the United Nations and the European Union. The evidence suggests the second view is nearer the truth and Mongolia’s Constitutional Court has upheld a General Election Commission ruling that because Enkhbayar, president from 2005 to 2009, is facing five corruption charges, he is not eligible to run in parliamentary elections on June 28. That ruling has stalled and perhaps ended Enkhbayar’s attempts at a political comeback after his defeat in the 2009 presidential election.
Mongolia’s former leader Nambar Enkhbayar said Tuesday a decision barring him from running in upcoming elections was “illegal”, as his corruption trial was postponed for the third time. Enkhbayar — who had planned to run in parliamentary polls on June 28 before being barred from doing so last week — faces five counts of graft dating back to his time as prime minister and president of the impoverished country. But on Tuesday his first hearing was postponed for the third time after he complained of not having enough time to go over the case files and because his lawyer had left the city. “The election committee denied my application to be a candidate. That was illegal so I gave a letter to the Constitutional Court to reconsider my candidacy for the election,” he told reporters outside court in Ulan Bator.
Former Mongolian President Enkhbayar Nambar said he has been deemed ineligible to stand in this month’s parliamentary elections, in the latest setback to his attempted political comeback at a time when fresh questions are being asked about the nation’s democratic foundations. In an interview Thursday, Mr. Enkhbayar said the General Election Commission of Mongolia informed him it wouldn’t accept his application to participate in the June 28 election due to a pending corruption case against him and after consultation with state prosecutors. Mr. Enkhbayar, who served as president from 2005 until 2009, denies the corruption allegations and said he intends to challenge the commission’s decision. Messages left with the commission weren’t returned.
As he prepared to go on trial on corruption charges, the former president of Mongolia lay in a wrinkled hospital bed, where he was recovering from a 10-day hunger strike he waged to protest being held in detention by his successor’s government. Gaunt, barefoot and dressed in hospital-issue white pajamas, the former president, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, bore little resemblance to the populist leader who dominated Mongolian politics until he was defeated in 2009 by Tsakhia Elbegdorj, who now runs the country. But even in his apparently frail state, Mr. Enkhbayar angrily dismissed the charges against him in an interview on Wednesday, and criticized the timing of the trial as a ploy to remove him from the political arena just weeks before parliamentary elections. “If this is a political case, let’s do it now,” he said in fluent English. “But if we live in a real democratic country, and this is not just political theater, let’s take more time.”