Mongolia kicks off parliamentary election campaign amid sinking commodity prices

ULAN BATOR, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia Saturday kicked off campaigns for parliamentary and local council elections due on June 29, which would shape the country's political life in the coming four years.
The quadrennial event caught public attention as the resource-rich country is faced with sinking commodity prices and weaker demand in the global market.
According to the General Election Commission of Mongolia, 498 candidates, coming from 12 parties, three coalitions or as independents, will run for 76 seats of the State Great Khural, as well as posts in local law-making councils.
However, analysts said that the main race for parliamentary seats will be done between the two largest parties of the country, namely the ruling Democratic Party of Mongolia and the oppositional Mongolian People's Party (MPP).
To nudge for more supports, both parties have nominated well-known singers, athletes and actors to run on their behalf. For instance, the ruling party has put up popular singer Erdenetungalag Gavaasuren and judo athlete Tuvshinbayar Naidan, who won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games, to run respectively in the northern province of Selenge and Southwestern province of Bayankhongor.
The opposition MPP also nominated former wrestler Sukhbat Agvaansamdan to run for a seat in the central province of Tov.
Despite all the publicity, however, analysts predicted that economy-related issues, such as poverty, slowdown and unemployment will remain at the forefront of the campaign, as the economy of the 3-million-population country was predicted to shrink slightly this year amid sinking commodity prices and sluggish demands.
Currently, the prices of coal and copper, two main commodities for export of the land-locked nation, fell sharply in the global futures market. Mongolia was also reported to run low on hard currency to pay for imports.
The ruling Democratic Party of Mongolia advocated that the party has improved the livelihood for ordinary Mongolians in the past four years and take many key measures to boost the national economy, including the approval of the development of copper and gold mine OyuTolgoi in partnership with Rio Tinto.
However, the oppositional MPP held the government accountable for the nation's snow-balling foreign debt of 23 billion U.S. dollars accumulated these years, as the country's tight finance has confined its ability to pay the debt back.
The MPP also blamed the Democratic Party for stalling the large coking coal mine project of TavanTolgoi, which was expected to attract the much needed investments from Chinese coal miners.
"Politicians of previous generations ... failed the country by making populist promises. It is time to change this whole system," said Munkhsoyol Baatarjav, a female independent candidate.
Mongolian political life is shaped by this four year election cycle. The party or coalition that gets most of the seats in parliament in the election forms the government and appoints prime minister.

Source:Xinhua News Agency
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