President Elbegdorj Ups the Ante

The international coverage of former president Nambar Enkhbayar’s treatment by the current government and the General Election Committee of Mongolia has clearly rattled President Elbegdorj. He has issued a series of comments defending the government’s actions and reaffirming not only the charges logged against Enkhbayar, but also imploring Mongolia’s democratic allies to recognize the he is supporting due process of law in Mongolia.

President Elbegdorj’s comments are defensive, to say the least. His purported commitment to rule of law, governing transparency and the sanctity of human rights has been directly challenged by Enkhbayar’s imprisonment and subsequent treatment by the government. It is not often that Amnesty International takes up a case that does not reflect a legitimate abuse of human rights and, as you will recall, they issued a public statement in early May calling on Mongolia to respect Enkhbayar’s human rights. Amnesty International’s exact words were that Enkhbayar’s detention “appears to be arbitrary” – an important signal that Enkhbayar has not been treated fairly throughout this process.

If President Elbegdorj is so concerned about his, and Mongolia’s, reputation as a free, democratic society then it is in his best interest to let Enkhbayar and his son stand in the upcoming elections. While he is correct that corruption plagues far too many of the world’s developing countries, he has inaccurately placed the blame on Enkhbayar.

It is clear that international support for Enkhbayar and, most importantly, for democracy in Mongolia is affecting the administration. It is therefore crucial that we continue in this effort and work to ensure that Enkhbayar is allowed to participate in the parliamentary elections on June 28th.