Cronyism At Its Worst In Mongolia

As I wrote on Monday, the Mongolian elections will go ahead without former president Enkhbayar standing for his Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP). And go ahead they did today due to current president Elbegdorj’s manipulation of democracy for his own benefit.

On the significance of the elections, Elbegdorj commented, “Today, we Mongolians face an important time to make a historic choice to address Mongolia’s development and democracy.” What Elbegdorj failed to mention was that he and his cronies are the principal force standing in the way of Mongolia’s development and democracy.

New information the General Election Committee’s (GEC) decision-making process sheds light on how corrupt and backhanded the current Mongolian government really is.

The GEC has shown that it is completely subordinate to the two main political parties. Ts. Nyamdorj, the current Minister of Justice and candidate from the Mongolian People’s Party, has been mired in scandal. In 2008, as Speaker of the Parliament, Nyamdorj illegally added amendments to natural resources legislation. His actions violated the Mongolian Constitution and he subsequently resigned as Speaker of the Parliament. However, the GEC allowed him to stand in today’s elections despite the Constitutional Court’s ruling on his illegal actions.

In another case, the GEC refused to register Professor Narangerel, a law professor at the partly state owned Mongolian National University and a member of the MPRP coalition, because civil officials cannot run for parliamentary elections. However, the GEC had no problem registering another professor from the same university, Professor Munkhbaatar, who is a member of Elbegdorj’s Democratic Party.

The most striking example of bias has been the treatment of Enkhbayar himself who was, in the end, banned from standing in today’s election because he violated a prison regulation during his detainment. The prison regulation he violated was merely having a cell phone with him after his bodyguards (all persons with special immunity must have bodyguards in prison) were forced to leave the prison and Enkhbayar’s lawyer advised him to keep a phone in case of emergency.

On the one hand, there is a candidate standing for election today who violated the Mongolian Constitution. On the other hand, we have Enkhbayar sidelined from today’s election for having a cell phone for emergencies with him after his mandated bodyguards left him without protection.

It is all too clear that the GEC and Elbegdorj had a vested interest in keeping Enkhbayar off the ballot. They succeeded in this pursuit, but in the process they have undermined important tenants of democracy and destroyed Mongolia’s reputation as a democratic nation.