Mongolian rivals join forces to govern
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.
The ruling partnership is unusual because of the bitter acrimony between the Democratic party and the MPRP, and the pending legal action against Enkhbayar on corruption charges, which he denies. Earlier this year he went on a hunger strike to protest the allegations, which he says are politically motivated.
Mr Enkhbayar, who previously served as both president and prime minister as part of the Mongolian People’s party, split with that party to found the MPRP in 2011. His trial on five charges of corruption is set to begin on Wednesday, although it has been delayed many times.
The trial could prove divisive between the coalition partners and analysts say the possibility of the MPRP pulling out of the government if the courts reach a guilty verdict in Mr Enkbayar’s case cannot be ruled out. If the courts clear Mr Enkhbayar of the charges, then he could play a very active role in the government through the MPRP.
Some analysts expect that resources nationalism could rise due to the MPRP’s presence in government and Mr Enkhbayar’s nationalistic remarks before the election.
Mr Enkhbayar advocates making Tavan Tolgoi, the large Mongolian coking coal deposit, 100 per cent state-owned, a move that would scuttle the plans for a public listing of the mine in London and Hong Kong next year.
However Mr Enkhbayar’s son, E. Batshugar, rejected the characterisation of the MPRP’s policies as “nationalistic”.
“Having foreign investors in Mongolia is one of the keys to our development,” he told the Financial Times by phone.
By Leslie Hook in Beijing