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  • Writer's pictureAmar Adiya

Why Elbegdorj Shouldn't be Ignored

Elbegdorj on "Red Pen" talk show

In recent weeks, former Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj has become increasingly vocal about China's language and culture policies in Inner Mongolia. His criticism has even extended to writing a letter to President Xi Jinping, which was politely returned by the Chinese Ambassador due to Elbegdorj's "incorrect ideas."

Elbegdorj has also made appearances on popular talk shows like "Red Pen," generating over 500,000 views and signaling that he is not done with politics after stepping down from the presidency three years ago.

Former President's main worry is that Mongolia is regressing from democracy and a liberal market economy after 30 years of democratic transition, and that current leaders such as President Khaltmaagiin Battulga and Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh could be seeking an authoritarian regime similar to China and Russia.

Upon his return to Mongolia in April 2020, Elbegdorj announced that he would do everything in his power to vote out Battulga in next year's election.

However, with the Democratic Party's failure in the recent parliamentary election, Elbegdorj's footing may have weakened further.

He is increasingly seen as a liability in the upcoming local and presidential elections and is still one of the most disliked politicians in recent opinion polls.

On the other hand, Battulga has been actively involved in selecting the Democratic Party's next leader, scheduled for November 2020.

Elbegdorj is technically unqualified to run for the presidency again as he has already served two terms and had a long lapse in living abroad last year, which disqualifies him from candidacy.

Furthermore, he might be arrested in the coming weeks or months over accusations of abuse of power in the Erdenet copper mine transaction and attempted sale of Tavan Tolgoi coal mine to the Chinese Shenhua, a deal that never materialized.

Cabinet Secretary Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene has also accused Elbegdorj of receiving kickbacks from copper concentrate sales during his eight years as president.

Despite this, Elbegdorj cannot be ignored, and he and his team are attempting to make a comeback in politics.

Do you think it's more important than ever to help the world audience understands the dizzying political and economic changes occurring in Mongolia today? Can you look at local news stories from a global perspective? Join the conversation by contributing to Mongolia Weekly - the first-ever weekly newsletter in English offering commentaries and insights into Mongolian politics, elections, policy & regulatory changes and foreign policy trends.


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