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Ex-PM secures Mongolia's top job

China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-11 09:30

Ukhnaa Khurelsukh attends a campaign rally ahead of the presidential election, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on June 5, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

ULAANBAATAR-Former Mongolian prime minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh has won the country's presidential election, further consolidating the status of the ruling Mongolian People's Party, or MPP.

MPP Chairman Khurelsukh, who resigned as prime minister earlier this year, defeated Sodnomzundui Erdene of the opposition Democratic Party and Dangaasuren Enkhbat of the Right Person Electorate Coalition in a national vote, the General Election Committee, or GEC, said.

"A total of 1,216,246 people cast their votes in the election, or 59.35 percent of all eligible voters. The candidate from the MPP, Khurelsukh, obtained 67.76 percent of the votes," Purevee Delgernaran, head of the GEC, said at a news conference.

The official noted that all paper ballots of the election were counted by hand to avoid any disputes related to ballot counting machines.

Khurelsukh will replace incumbent Khaltmaa Battulga, a former world champion in the martial art of sambo who cannot run for a second presidential term under constitutional rules.

"From the bottom of my heart, I thank my fellow Mongolians," he said.

Mongolia, with a population of around 3.3 million, has held eight presidential elections since 1993. Among them, the first presidential election had the highest voter turnout at 92.7 percent, while this year's election had the lowest voter turnout rate.

However, Khurelsukh won the highest percent of votes in the history of the country's presidential elections.

COVID-19 restrictions

His victory follows a series of COVID-19 restrictions. Most outdoor events were canceled on Saturday after the candidate Enkhbat tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mongolia introduced some of the strictest early measures against the virus and achieved early success in keeping numbers low.

But cases have soared in recent months, although there have been impressive high rates of vaccination.

Mongolia recorded 1,460 new COVID-19 infections in the latest 24-hour period, the highest daily spike since the outbreak began, bringing the national tally to 70,482, with 348 deaths, the country's Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The economy shrank by 5.3 percent in 2020, its worst contraction since the early 1990s and far from its peak growth rate of 17 percent in 2013, figures from the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank showed.

Mongolia's political system gives its elected parliament the right to appoint governments and decide policy, but the president has the power to veto legislation and hire and fire judges.

The presidency has often been controlled by the opposition party in the past. Khurelsukh's election is expected to give the MPP more control over the levers of power, although he is obliged to relinquish his party affiliation as soon as he takes office.

Agencies - Xinhua

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