Survival of New Defense Minister and Other Issues of Controling the Security Forces

One of the youngest cabinet members, J. Enkhbayar, has survived a “no-confidence” vote in parliament on March 9, 2012 after filling the Defense Minister’s seat in the post-Coalition government.  At a quick glance, it could be easily interpreted as an election campaign tactic by the Democratic Party – raising accusations over the newly-appointed Defense Minister’s careless statement about the possibility of using the military during a state emergency.   A senior member of parliament of the Democratic Party, R. Gonchigdorj, and other key Democratic Party members called for the resignation of the Defense Minister, but it was clearly impossible for the Democratic Party to succeed with this motion considering the majority of the Mongolian People’s Party in parliament.

At the same time, the Civil Service Commission intervened in the Defense Minister’s attempt to influence in appointing the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defense – the highest professional military and bureaucratic post at the Ministry of Defense. The Civil Service Commission appointed the new State Secretary from the short-listed four potential applicants.  This closes ongoing attempts to bring a party-affiliated officials to the Ministry’s important bureaucratic post.  Surprisingly, it happened in the military first – which indicates the growing influence of the Civil Service Commission.

The recurring trial of police chiefs related to July 1 (2008) event has now been postponed in order to call all high-ranking officials, including the former President, Prime Minister, and Minister of Internal Affairs and Justice in 2008 as witnesses. Upon request, former President N. Enkhbayar officially asked the Chairman of the Parliament to change the status of government materials to unclassified on March 9, 2012, so that he could attend as a witness in an open (live) trial.  [On July 1, 2008, five people were allegedly shot to death by the police during the post-election demonstration.]

Related to Mongolian security institutions, the Government’s proposal to amalgamate three different schools – the Border Troops Academy, the National Intelligence Academy, and the Police Academy under the name of the Internal Security Academy caused a round of criticisms from the public.  The most outspoken criticism came from the President’s national security advisor, Batchimeg.  She warned the Government to re-consider this decision and opposed to empower the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Justice as same as the Internal Security Ministry during the communist regime.  Although the government’s logic may be in line with the its attempt to reduce the number of universities and to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Although these events might be explained in the context of heated political campaigning toward elections, they also tell us the different story.  The trial of the police officials of the July 1 event, no-confidence vote over the newly-elected Defense Minister, appointment of the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, and backlash against empowerment of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs and Justice are signs of healthy democratic society, where the public and politicians are concerned over the use of and politicization of the security institutions.  Like many post-communist states in Eastern and Central Europe, Mongolian security institutions played a quite constructive roles toward democratization process – none opposed or challenged the democratically-elected public officials.  However, there are always been attempts by political parties in power to insert their influences in those institutions for their short term political goals.  These events revealed attempts of political parties – certainly calling for more clear-cut institutionalization of the security forces – away from the political influence.

 

 

About mendee

Mendee Jargalsaikhan is a Post-Graduate Research Scholar at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, and MAs in International Relations from the US Naval Postgraduate School and in Asia-Pacific Policy Studies from the Institute of Asian Research of the University of British Columbia.
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