Mongolia’s President Tsakhia Elbegdorj has been reelected. Voters went to the polls with election campaigning dominated by a national debate over mineral rights and fairer wealth distribution of mining profits.
President Tsakhia Elbegdorj has won a second term, having campaigned on a policy of using foreign cash to drive development. Since he was elected for a first term in 2009, Elbegdorj has also led a drive against corruption.
With all precincts reporting, Tsakhia Elbegdorj won 50.23 percent of Wednesday's vote, with Baterdene Badmaanyambuu, a former champion wrestler of the main opposition Mongolian People's Party (MPP), receiving 41.97 percent, according to the election commission.
The MPP ruled Mongolia from 1921 until 1996, having been unopposed until 1990 and has spent much of the last decade in power as part of a coalition with the Democratic Party in Mongolia's parliament, the Great Hural.
Udval Natsag, Mongolia's health minister and the first woman to contest the presidency, won 6.5 percent, less than anticipated.
The president has little executive power, but does enjoy important powers of veto and appointment. Although a ceremonial head of state, the president also gives advice to the prime minister on matters of national security and foreign policy and would be expected to have some influence regarding mineral rights and foreign investors.
Foreign companies have poured into Mongolia in recent years, keen to exploit the country's extensive and largely untapped coal, copper and gold reserves. Elbegdorj's opponents were pushing for all mineral rights to be kept in Mongolian hands.
The largest mining project is the Oyu Tolgoi mine, a joint venture between the Anglo-Australian enterprise Rio Tinto and Canada's Turquoise Hill Resources. The mine is expected to produce some 450,000 metric tons of copper concentrate each year, which would generate as much as one-third of government revenue by 2019. The first shipments from the mine were temporarily blocked.
hc/rg (Reuters, AP, AFP)