With Mongolia’s economy poised for boom times, politics is taking a dodgy turn. The April 13 arrest of a former president, Nambar Enkhbayar, on corruption charges has some analysts in Mongolia worried about the formerly communist state’s democratization process. The timing of the arrest has raised questions in the capital Ulaanbaatar about political motives.
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for June, and polls show the popularity of the governing coalition, comprising the Mongolian People’s Party and the Democratic Party, to be slipping. Enkhbayar, a former political insider, has emerged in recent years as the governing coalition’s most prominent critic.
The fact that Mongolia will rake in billions of dollars from the mining sector in the coming years should give the next government abundant patronage opportunities. Thus, the stakes in the June election are higher than ever before in the post-Communist era.
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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.