Mongolia elects new PM as economy stalls
Ulan Bator, Nov 21 (AFP) Mongolia’s parliament today chose a new prime minister to head its fractured government, an official website said, as the sprawling, resource-rich nation struggles with stalling economic growth.
The Democratic Party’s Chimed Saikhanbileg was overwhelmingly voted in after the opposition Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) boycotted the vote.
Land-locked Mongolia enjoyed world-beating growth in recent years — peaking at 17.5 per cent in 2011 — on the back of a boom in resources exports, mainly of coal, copper and iron ore.
But a collapse in commodity prices slowed economic expansion to 5.3 per cent in the first half of this year, at a time when the country faces rising inflation and a falling currency.
The Mongolian legislature, which is also known as the Great Hural, voted earlier this month to dismiss DP leader Norov Altankhuyag after he was accused of cronyism and failing to address growing economic problems.
Some observers had expected a “grand coalition” to be formed between the DP and the main opposition.
But the MPP voted earlier this week to oppose current cabinet secretary Saikhanbileg’s appointment. They had criticised him for being part of the previous leadership that had overseen the slowdown in Mongolia’s growth.
Saikhanbileg was voted in by 42 of the 44 members present after the MPP boycotted the vote, the Mongolian parliament said on its website Friday.
“In many ways Saikhanbileg’s election in the absence of the MPP signals a continuation of the previous government,” said Julian Dierkes, a Mongolia expert at the University of British Columbia.
“The next decision to watch will be the appointment of a cabinet where a larger number of professionals and bureaucrats may signal a greater pragmatism and recognition of pressing challenges to be addressed by the government.”
Saikhanbileg, who was born in 1969, is among the younger generation of Democrat politicians, and is a graduate of George Washington University.
Mongolia, for decades a tightly-controlled Soviet satellite, shook off communism nearly a quarter of a century ago.