ULAN BATOR, Mongolia: Mongolia's biggest political party has called on the prime minister to expel its key partner from a governing coalition forged last year, potentially throwing the resource-rich country's politics into renewed turmoil after months of relative stability.
The Democratic Party (DP) of Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg said Saturday that it was ordering him to boot out the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) from the coalition.
The announcement, in the form of a party executive leadership board decision, was published on its website, though it remained unclear if Saikhanbileg would follow through or if negotiations might avert a rupture.
The MPP had no immediate comment on the decision, though was expected to hold a meeting Monday to address it. Saikhanbileg's spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Saikhanbileg, an advocate for more foreign investment, on Wednesday held talks with Prime Minister David Cameron during a visit to Britain and also visited the London Stock Exchange.
Mongolia, a landlocked country between Russia and China and for decades a tightly-controlled satellite of the Soviet Union, shook off communism a quarter century ago, and has developed a vibrant democracy.
But it has struggled to realise the full bounty of its vast underground resources of gold, copper and coal amid internal squabbling over what role foreign investment should play in their extraction.
In remarks to reporters late Friday, Lombiin Erkhembayar, the acting general secretary of the DP, said that the MPP was invited into the coalition last year to help improve Mongolia's economy.
"Unfortunately, all the MPP does is fire government workers and slander the Democratic Party by saying government is doing nothing," Erkhembayar said.
"The government cannot operate normally with the MPP since they joined the coalition."
The DP claims that the MPP had cut more than 600 employees from ministries and government agencies and were criticising the government with an eye on elections due next year.
The "super coalition" government consisting of 19 Cabinet ministers was formed in December, made up of four different political parties that represent the vast majority of the 76-member Great Hural, or parliament.
Saikhanbileg's DP controls 10 portfolios in the Cabinet, while the MPP has six, with the rest divvied up between two smaller parties.
The DP has 35 seats in the legislature, while the MPP is the second-biggest member with 26. Other seats are held by a two-party alliance, three independents and a small party focussed on environmental issues.
The DP won 2012 elections, but in November last year the legislature voted to dismiss then prime minister and DP leaderNorovyn Altankhuyag after he was accused of cronyism and failing to address growing economic problems, leading to the formation of the coalition.
The MPP played a key role in demanding Altankhuyag's ouster.
Despite Mongolia's mineral wealth many citizens remain poor, and politicians in the country of three million have faced criticism of their policies by foreign investors, along with concerns about environmental damage and how fairly mineral wealth is shared.
Economic growth has slowed sharply since peaking at an eye-popping 17.5 percent in 2011 on the back of optimism over minerals and a boom in commodities prices, which have since fallen sharply globally.