Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia has won a second term, in an election dominated by a debate over the country’s vast mining wealth. Preliminary results Thursday show President Elbegdorj took 50.2 percent of the previous day’s vote, narrowly clearing the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off. His main challenger, opposition lawmaker and former pro-wrestler Baterdene Badmaanyambuu, received nearly 42 percent. The country’s first female presidential candidate, Health Minister Natsag Udval, came in a distant third place. Elbegdorj is a Harvard-educated former journalist who campaigned on promises of fighting corruption and continuing his policy of using foreign cash to power Mongolia’s rapidly growing economy.
The 50-year-old, who previously served two terms as prime minister, thanked his supporters Thursday at a rally in the capital, Ulan Bator. “I will do my best to uphold our country’s reputation internationally. I will also do my best to take suggestions and requests from our citizens for a brighter future, and to realize their hopes and dreams,” he said.
Fifty-seven percent of Mongolia’s eligible voters participated in the election, a figure well short of the turnout in the 2009 presidential election. Nigel Finch, a Mongolia analyst at the University of Sydney, tells VOA this could be due to voter apathy over government corruption, which Elbegdorj has promised to address.
“There’s a clear sentiment in Mongolia that the government is corrupt and that irrespective of voter turnout, those in power will continue to be self-serving and orchestrate the results that they need,” he said.
There were no reports of widespread irregularities in the election, unlike in past votes. Accusations of fraud dogged the 2008 parliamentary elections, which resulted in deadly riots.
The election was closely watched by foreign mining giants who have moved into the resource-rich country to exploit its still largely untapped reserves of gold, copper and iron.
Full Article: Elbegdorj Re-elected as Mongolia’s President.