ULAANBAATAR – A leading candidate for Mongolia’s presidency has called for greater state control of projects like the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine run by Rio Tinto, making mining and foreign investment central issues in the election campaign.
The landlocked North Asian country of three million people goes to the polls on June 26, just a month after securing a $5.5 billion International Monetary Fund-led bailout to lift the economy out of a balance of payments crisis.
Campaigning began on Tuesday, and painful austerity measures agreed by the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which runs the government but doesn’t hold the presidency, have made an easy target for rivals, as have controversies over deals done with foreign mining companies.
The presidential election in the former Soviet satellite, wedged between China and Russia, comes amid growing frustration among voters over suspected corruption and the perceived ineffectiveness of their governments.
Under Mongolia’s parliamentary democracy, the MPP government’s term should run for another three years, but its policies could be challenged by a president with veto powers. The outgoing president Tsakhia Elbegdorj belongs to the Democratic Party, but has to step down having served a maximum two terms.
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