Mongolian ruling party’s leader wins presidency, preliminary results show

Photo: AP

Preliminary results in Mongolia’s presidential election show the chairman of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party and ex-PM minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh winning by a large margin, news wires reported. Wednesday’s election was held amid restrictions aimed at containing the largest surge of Covid-19 cases to hit the vast landlocked nation of just 3m people.

The virtually certain win for Khurelsukh would cement his Mongolian People’s Party’s control over all three major branches of government, AP noted. The party also controls the legislature, known as the Great Hural, and the office of the prime minister. The opposition says that poses a risk to the country’s democracy.

The presidency is a largely ceremonial position, although it includes powers over the military and the right to veto legislation in some cases.

By midnight, Khurelsukh was leading with 67.9% of the vote, far ahead of former legislator Dangaasuren Enkhbat from the political alliance Right Person Electorate Coalition, who had 20.2%. Enkhbat tested positive for Covid-19 three days before the vote and is hospitalized.

Voter turnout was logged at 52.69%, surpassing the required threshold of 50%.

Voters said addressing unemployment, tackling corruption and reviving the economy hard hit by the pandemic topped their concerns.

Mongolia closed its borders when the pandemic first hit, initially sparing it from a major outbreak, but badly crippling the resource-based economy and weakening the currency.

Khurelsukh was set to become Mongolia’s sixth president since its peaceful transition from communism to democracy in 1992. Incumbent Battulga Khaltmaa of the Democratic Party was barred by the constitution from seeking a second term. Battulga served four years but his successor will serve six.

 

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