Mongolia’s parliament has unanimously confirmed Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh as the nation’s new prime minister.
The colourful leader, and president of Ulaanbaatar’s Harley-Davidson fan club, earned the nickname “Fist” after punching a colleague in 2012. He has also gotten a Putin-esque reputation for posing shirtless photos while riding horseback and posing with hunting guns.
Khurelsukh began his career in 1989 as a political officer in a military unit before moving into politics a year later. He was first elected into parliament in 2000 and has served as the country’s deputy prime minister twice.
Mongolia’s previous prime minister, Jargaltulgiin Erdenebat, was ousted by parliament a month ago after allegations of corruption — a claim he vigorously denied. Both ministers are members of the ruling Mongolia People’s Party that, in 2016, won an overwhelming number of seats, 65 out of a possible 76. However, it is not uncommon for Mongolia to regularly overhaul it’s leadership. Since elections in 1992 there have been 15 cabinets, each lasting 18 months on average, and no prime minister has served their full four-year term since 2004.
Former prime minister Erdenebat criticised the trend after his voting out: “Although, some of us point to foreign investments as economic killers, in reality we politicians are the internal killers of our economy and suffocate our own growth.”
Despite its role as a key coal supplier to China, mineral-rich Mongolia has significant debt pressures and the selection of a new prime minister will put the IMF’s $5.5 billion economic rescue package back on track.
Mongolia also has open dialogue and diplomatic ties with all key regional nations in Central Asia — including China, Russia, South Korea and even North Korea — which has made it a central nation for hosting international discussions and promoting regional peace.
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