September 3rd, 2012 by

A second report from Alan Sanders

The Mongolian Great Khural Election 2012

Part 2: Formation of the Democracy-Justice Coalition Government

(Continued from Part 1 dated 8 July) The oath of office was taken by 69 of the 72 new Great Khural members on 16 July. The Khural’s opening session on 19 July was chaired by the senior member, Damdiny Demberel, the former speaker. The Democratic Party, Justice Coalition and Civil Courage Green Party stated their agreement to set up a joint government in which ministerial posts would be allocated to the DP and Justice in a ratio of 75:25, the CCGP sharing with the DP. After a cooperation agreement had been signed a government programme would be drawn up on the basis of the DP election platform but including the main goals of the CCGP and Justice. Plans to continue the session the following day with the election of the new speaker were opposed by the Mongolian People’s Party spokesman, Nyamaagiin Enkhbold, former deputy speaker, who said the MPP had not been consulted. If a party or coalition failed to obtain a clear majority (39 seats) the appointment of the speaker must be discussed with all other parties.

Demberel and the other MPP members boycotted the Great Khural session on 20 July. The DP view was that the session would move on once the MPP had sorted out internal issues at its Little Khural (310-member conference). This opened on 24 July to replace Chairman Sükhbaataryn Batbold, General Secretary Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh and other leaders responsible for the party’s election defeat. MPP Secretary Ölziisaikhany Enkhtüvshin was elected party chairman and Minister of External Relations Gombojavyn Zandanshatar general secretary. On its third day the MPP elected nine secretaries, including Nyamaagiin Enkhbold.

Because of the Little Khural meeting Demberel and the other MPP members were absent from the Great Khural. DP member Sodnomzunduin  Erdene remarked that the MPP should meet at weekends, like the DP, not on working days. The DP, Justice and CCGP asked Logiin Tsog, after Demberel the next most senior member, to chair the session. DP Chairman Altankhuyag nominated Zandaakhüügiin Enkhbold Speaker of the Great Khural, 40 of the 43 members present voted in favour and Tsog presented him with the seal of office.

The DP and Justice parliamentary groups chose their leaders, Dondogdorjiin Erdenebat and Namdagiin Battsereg, but MPP spokesman Enkhbold held a press conference to declare the procedure for electing the speaker illegal. There was no law saying that the second or third most senior member could chair the session, he said. The MPP group must be consulted. DP Khural member Radnaagiin Burmaa commented that Demberel had adjourned the session although the constitutional minimum of 35 members had been present. It was illegal to interrupt the session on the pretext that some members were not present. Since Zandaakhüügiin Enkhbold had been elected speaker at the first session, she said, Demberal had no right to close or open sessions.

At consultations with the DP on 30 and 31 July the MPP presented three demands: repeat the election of the speaker; resolve the Övörkhangai constituency dispute quickly; and hand count the machine-counted ballots in five locations. The DP rejected them: the election of the speaker had been lawful and could not be repeated; the Övörkhangai dispute was in the hands of the court; and the Election Committee had declared recounts unnecessary. The MPP boycott of the Great Khural continued. DP member Davaajavyn Gankhuyag commented on 2 August that the “stubbornly resentful” MPP had created difficulties, the Khural was like a “hobbled horse”.

MPP spokesman Nyamaagiin Enkhbold hinted on 7 August that a favourable outcome of the court case against the two Övörkhangai MPP members would “create conditions for the party to return to state work”. MPP deputy spokesman Sandagiin Byambatsogt added that the former MPP majority had always respected the minority and striven for accord. “We want to deal with matters of consensus with mutual respect. We are not looking for a chance to join the cabinet.”

The DP members and their coalition partners pressed ahead with the appointment of chairmen of standing committees and formation of sub-committees without the MPP. After another MPP-DP meeting Nyamaagiin Enkhbold stated on 9 August the MPP’s readiness to return to the Khural. President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj called a meeting with DP and MPP Chairmen Altankhuyag and Enkhtüvshin and told them that the Great Khural must discuss the appointment of the prime minister. MPP General Secretary Zandanshatar announced at a press conference the Leadership Council’s decision that the party should attend the Great Khural. In the Khural, however, Nyamaagiin Enkhbold repeated that the speaker’s election had been illegal and the session should discuss it. DP member Sodnomzunduin Erdene pointed out that the session had been convened to appoint the prime minister. MPP Chairman Enkhtüvshin asked whether Speaker Enkhbold had received the MPP group’s official notice of formation; Enkhbold replied that the time for its delivery had long since expired. Enkhtüvshin pointed out that constitutionally parties winning more than eight seats had the right to form a parliamentary group. Their request to form a group had been sent to the senior member, but then the speaker had been elected illegally.

DP Chairman Altankhuyag replied that the state structure standing committee had nominated the chairman and the Khural had elected him legally. The standing committees had been formed in accordance with the Law on the Mongolian Great Khural. Nyamaagiin Enkhbold said that there should be another vote on the election of the speaker. Erdene accused the MPP of holding up state work. Byambatsogt said that the MPP group had been formed and its chairman had given notification, but Speaker Enkhbold pointed out that in accordance with the Law on the Mongolian Great Khural (amended by the MPP in 2007), the group’s formation must be reported in writing within 24 hours of the speaker’s appointment. The MPP would have to amend the law.

The state structure standing committee nominated the DP Chairman to the post of prime minister, the Khural voted in favour and the seal of office was presented to Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag by outgoing Prime Minister Batbold in the presence of President Elbegdorj. The structure of the new cabinet and ministerial nominations were approved by the President and presented to the Great Khural on 14 August, setting up 17 ministries (previously 11) and appointing 19 ministers (previously 15), while reducing the number of government agencies from 43 to 28. Thirteen DP ministers were appointed by the Great Khural on 17 August and their four coalition partners on 21 August. The DP ministers included External Relations Minister Luvsanvandangiin Bold and Defence Minister Dashdembereliin Bat-Erdene. Deputy Prime Minister Dendeviin Terbishdagva and Finance Minister Chültemiin Ulaan were appointed from Justice, as was Deputy Speaker Logiin Tsog. Two of the new ministers were not Khural members. The new ministries separated energy from mining, roads and transport from construction and urban development, and culture from education and science, while industry and agriculture were combined.

Alan Sanders, Mongolist, 1 September 2012

Further details about the new government and Khural members are available on application.

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