Construction scandal sweeps Mongolian government from power

Mongolia’s parliament in Ulaanbaatar has voted to dismiss the prime minister and his People’s Party cabinet over the signing of contracts with construction and mining companies linked to three senior politicians.

Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat, pictured, was forced from office after a 17-hour session yesterday (7 September).

The scandal concerned the granting of state contracts worth $328m to a contractor owned by the minister of justice, a road building company partly owned by the cabinet secretary, and a mining company owned by the family of the minister of labour, ABC News reports.

The contracts are for roads and power grid equipment, including an entire substation that will supply a mine.

Speaking at yesterday’s debate, Erdenebat argued that lawmakers had not understood the issues.

"I believe that the executive is being dismissed as a result of misinformation rather than the application of democratic accountability," he said.

"If you want to develop your country, keep in mind the stability of the government, improving the system and keeping strict observance of its constitution."

The Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) won a landslide in the 2016 legislative elections for the Great Khural, as the parliament is called, taking 65 of the 76 seats contested. However, the MPP lost the July presidential election, which was won by business tycoon and former judo champion Khaltmaa Battulga of the Democratic party.

Out of 73 lawmakers present during the voting yesterday, 33 from the MPP and nine opposition lawmakers voted for the dismissal. Parliament is expected to appoint a new government in the next 45 days.

Batzandan Jalbasuren, a Democratic party lawmaker, accused Erdenebat’s administration of "stealing", according to the AP agency.

The government has also been hit by the fall in mineral prices and is weighed down by a national debt of about $23bn, or twice the country’s annual economic output. It recently obtained a $5.5bn bailout led by the IMF.

Image: Prime Minister Erdenebat at yesterday’s meeting (Great Khural)

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