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Mongolia ruling party nominates new prime minister

Mongolia ruling party nominates new prime minister

Mongolia's ruling party has nominated the current foreign minister and one of the country's wealthiest men to be the new prime minister of the impoverished but resource-rich nation.
The Mongolian National Broadcaster said all but one of the 180 members of the leadership of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party voted for Batbold Sukhbaatar late Wednesday.
The nomination follows the approval of parliament earlier Wednesday of Bayar Sanjaa's request to step down as prime minister for health reasons. Bayar has previously sought treatment overseas for liver problems due to a hepatitis C infection and was hospitalized again last week in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator.
The prime minister's resignation comes just weeks after he saw through the signing of a long-awaited deal between Mongolia and partners Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines to develop a $4 billion gold and copper mine after a heated national debate over how to exploit the country's mineral wealth.
The agreement on the Oyu Tolgoi mine in the Gobi desert was renegotiated repeatedly after opponents complained it shortchanged Mongolia, which lies wedged between Russia and China and has long been wary of foreign domination. Parliament had to repeal a windfall profits tax in August before London-based Rio and Canada's Ivanhoe would agree to go ahead.
If confirmed as prime minister, Batbold would likely continue the party's broadly pro-mining policy, the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in a research note.
"However, he may also be more inclined to balance growing Russian and Chinese interests in the sector by accommodating Western investors," the note said.
The party will submit Batbold's nomination to President Elbegdorj Tsakhia, who is expected to give his approval in the next few days. After that, the Mongolian parliament, called the State Great Khural, will confirm him.
The MPRP, which ran Mongolia as communists until 1990, holds 46 seats in the 76-seat parliament, with another 27 held by the Democratic Party of Mongolia.
Between 1992 and 2000, Batbold headed the trading company Altai Trading Co. Ltd., which formed a gold mining joint venture with Canadian Centerra Gold Inc. Altai Trading is now being managed by Batbold's wife.


Updated : 2021-05-10 07:04 GMT+08:00