Mongolian democracy tested by ex-president’s arrest?

On May 2012, New York Times posted an article by Dan Levin on the situation surrounding Mongolia’s ex-president Nambaryn Enhkbayar, who is charged with corruption. The article is clearly one-sided and gives misrepresentation of this ongoing process as merely a manifestation of the rivalry between Ts. Elbegdorj, the president of Mongolia, and Enkhbayar.

Dan Levin wrote “The government, headed by Mr. Enkhbayar’s rival, President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, has remained largely silent on the matter.” He continued “Hundreds rioted during the last parliamentary elections four years ago when the leader of the Democratic Party, Mr. Elbegdorj, accused Mr. Enkhbayar’s government of voter fraud.” “Mr. Elbegdorj was swept into power the next year, and the mutual enmity has only grown. After his defeat, Mr. Enkhbayar founded the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, which is expected to play kingmaker after the parliamentary election.”

Dan Levin is misinformed about political process in Mongolia. Mongolia is not a presidential democracy. The head of the government is the prime minister, which is currently Sukhbaataryn Batbold. Four years ago it was Sanjyn Bayar, whose government was accused of voter fraud.

While the accusations and the protest, as Dan Levin wrote, are similar to the recent controversy involving former Ukraine’s PM Yulia V. Tymoshenko, it is just wrong to view Enkhbayar’s case something like the rivalry between Tymoshenko and the Ukraine’s president.

Without a doubt, there has been a rivalry or enmity between the current and the ex-presidents considering their political career as the most popular leaders of Mongolia’s two major political parties. However, interpreting the present controversy surrounding Enkhbayar from such an angle undermines recent anti-corruption campaigns in Mongolia.

Until recently, the role of the Agency of Fighting Corruption has been very limited and corruption allegations by against politicians and public officials were often removed. With the appointment of the new head and deputy director, about whom Dan Levin wrote, as well, the Agency of Fighting Corruption made an apparent progress in investigating ‘big’ corruption cases. A number of aimag governors were charged with corruption and some of them were sentenced to prison terms.

There is nothing surprising when Enkhbayar, who was once called as “The Father of Corruption” in Mongolia, is charged with corruption by the Agency of Fighting Corruption. The allegations against him are not new. Mongolians have often heard about such ‘stories’ told by the media. The investigation and official allegations came quite late and are wrongly timed.

The present saga surrounding Enkhbayar began when he founded the new Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) again (some would say usurped that name from The Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) in 2011) after the he was defeated in the 2009 presidential election. Pushed out of politics, his political decision was against his former party and its leaders, leading to the enmity between them that manifested by mutual accusations of corruption. The MPRP became a threat to the MPP as it would attract its members and share a significant number of votes in the upcoming election. Actually, recent polls indicate that there is at least 6% of popular support for the MPRP. It is an alarming number for the MPP given that its popular support is 16.5% according to the recent Politbarometer. Instead of discussing this political rivalry, if it is necessary to highlight politics, the article attacked wrong targets based on the opinions of one side of the multi-faceted controversy.

This entry was posted in Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Ikh Khural 2012 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Mongolian democracy tested by ex-president’s arrest?

  1. Note that Enkhbayar was released on bail on the morning of May 14.

  2. Marissa Smith says:

    Thanks for this.

  3. Pingback: По делу Н. Энхбаяра « Степь: шаг за шагом

  4. Alan says:

    Essential reading for anyone interested in corruption in Mongolia. This article came out in Mongolian a few weeks ago and then in translation. I’ve not seen comments from any Western commentator on this courageous “Wikileak”: http://www.mad-mongolia.com/news/mongolia-news/spider-web-6-10530/

    • Dear Alan,
      the “spider web 6” report has been out for a couple of weeks now and has also popped up in some commentary, or maybe I only think it has because I read it a while ago. Sure makes for an interesting read, but unfortunately, there’s very little to corroborate the allegations in the report. They do confirm what rumours have hinted at, but don’t really confirm anything factual.
      Thanks for providing the link in any case.

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