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Foreign Money Scopes Out New Mongolian PM

Can tough-talking, Harley-riding Khurelsukh ensure stability and a coherent economic policy?

5 October 2017

The appointment of Ukhnaa Khurelsukh (pictured) as Mongolia’s new prime minister could speed the disbursement of a vital, $5.5 billion bailout package by the International Monetary Fund, Reuters reports.

 

Parliament confirmed Khurelsukh’s nomination Wednesday. In a speech, Khurelsukh, 49, a member of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), promised to “improve people’s lives, declare discipline and rules, fight corruption and punish those who are irresponsible,” according to AFP.

 

“My cabinet ... will declare justice again,” he said, adding, “don’t come to me with illegal acts as well as my cabinet members and don’t pressure us to act illegally,” Khurelsukh said.

 

The previous premier, Jargaltulga Erdenebat, also from the MPP, was dismissed in early September with a no-confidence vote amid accusations of incompetence and corruption. Erdenebat’s removal also came after his party was defeated in a July presidential election.

 

The latest political shakeup in Mongolia, where 15 different prime ministers have taken turns since its democratic revolution in the early 1990s, delayed the disbursement of bailout funds by the IMF.

 

In February, Mongolia was awarded a $5.5 billion rescue package to help resolve its economic crisis and stem the mounting government debt. But in September the IMF postponed a payment of about $38 million of the funds until a new government was in place.

 

The multinational mining companies that are eager to exploit the country’s enormous reserves of metals and coal hope the new government will be more receptive to foreign investment, Reuters says.

 

 

  • Khurelsukh has previously served as emergency management minister and party general secretary. According to Reuters, he also spent one year in the military between 1989 and 1990 and holds the rank of colonel.

 

  • A president of a Harley-Davidson fan club, Khurelsukh has a reputation for being a colorful politician who could influence younger party members. Khurelsukh is also recognized for his physical toughness – in 2012, he was caught on tape punching another parliamentarian.

 

  • Mongolia’s economic difficulties were a key topic also during the country’s July presidential election, won by Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party. 

Compiled by Peter Georgiev

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