The Associated Press – ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia — A rare public protest in Mongolia’s capital on Wednesday drew thousands of demonstrators who criticized foreign mining concessions and demanded action to prop up the tottering economy.
More than 2,000 demonstrators in Ulaanbaatar’s Freedom Square also called for parliament to be dissolved and a new government formed over alleged corruption and the economic crisis battering the vast, landlocked nation.
Protesters say the mineral wealth that accounts for 94 percent of the nation’s exports has been exploited by foreign companies, with few benefits going to Mongolia’s 3 million people, one-third of whom live in poverty.
“Our wealth is shipped outside of the country. Where is that money going?” former wrestler and opposition lawmaker Battulga Khaltmaa asked the crowd assembled by an umbrella group of small political parties and civil society organizations known as Ethical Mongol.
Battulga was particularly critical of the terms extended to Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto PLC to develop the $5.4 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper mine. Talks on expanding the mine have bogged down over the government’s demand for more revenue.
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