Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New President Elected in Mongolia

Sunday was especially quiet, even with the wonderful weather. The reason was it was election day.

Harvard graduate Elbegdorj Tsahia wins Mongolian election

by Zeev Rozen (Reuters)

From remote grasslands to the heart of the capital, Mongolians cast their ballots on Sunday to elect a new president
Mongolia has a new president. A man who has already served twice as prime minister, the US-educated opposition candidate defeated the incumbent who attended university in Britain in a close-run fight.

The presidential election in the huge country, with a population of just three million scattered across an area more than twice the size of France, means the Democratic Party candidate will take over the largely ceremonial post from the ex-communist Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party leader.

Results were still trickling in from remote gers and nomad settlements, but an official count gave Elbegdorj Tsahia, a graduate of Harvard, a lead of about 53.7 per cent over the incumbent, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, who attended Leeds University and translated Charles Dickens into Mongolian. The winner had campaigned on a theme of change and anti-corruption that appealed to urban voters.

The capital, Ulaanbaator, was quiet as President Enkhbayar conceded defeat, a year after disputed general elections set off rioting in which five people were killed and 300 injured. Officials appeared anxious to avoid a renewed outbreak of violence amid allegations of vote-rigging.

Bayar Sanjaa, an official with President Enkhbayar’s party, congratulated Elbegdorj:“We believe the election was conducted fairly. We accept the election result.” When Elbegdorj's Democrats lost in parliamentary elections last year, he alleged voting fraud by election committees, which are dominated by the ruling party. The vodka-fueled riot that followed was the worst outbreak of political violence since the 1990 overthrow of communism in the landlocked state, squeezed between Russia and China.