ULAN BATOR: Mongolian lawmakers were meeting yesterday to start talks on choosing a new prime minister for the resource-rich country, an official said, but observers say it could take weeks to fix the fractured government.
The poll comes after Norov Altankhuyag was voted out by the country’s parliament, the Great Hural, on Wednesday amid accusations of cronyism and a struggling economy that has suffered from slumping foreign investment.
The opposition Mongolian People’s Party had called last month for the vote of no confidence in Altankhuyag, who has also faced criticism from factions within his own party, the Democratic Party (DP).
“Members of parliament will meet on Friday to discuss the new prime minister,” said a spokeswoman for the DP, the majority party in the ruling coalition.
The spokesman did not say how long the talks were expected to last, but DP members are also thought to decide on a new cabinet that can be proposed to their coalition partners, observers say.
Political commentator and television presenter Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa said the favourite to become new prime minister was cabinet secretary Saikhanbileg Chimed, a graduate of George Washington University.
“It will take a couple of weeks and we will have to go with an acting prime minister, which is not a good situation,” he added.
Mongolia has enjoyed world-beating growth in recent years — peaking at 17.5 percent in 2011 — on the back of a resources boom — mainly coal, copper and iron ore.
But that slowed to 5.3 percent in the first half of this year, and the country also faces rising inflation and a weakening currency.
“While the prime minister was skilled at keeping a coalition together, he has been heavily criticised for leading Mongolia into a situation of economic crisis,” Julian Dierkes, a Mongolia expert at the University of British Columbia, said.
Mongolia, for decades a tightly controlled Soviet satellite, shook off communism nearly a quarter of a century ago and has emerged as a vibrant parliamentary democracy.