Opposition victory in Mongolia vote promises greater share of mining profits for citizens

The opposition Democratic Party declared victory in yesterday’s parliamentary elections over Mongolia’s ruling party in a highly disputed election that focused on how to better share profits coming from an expanding but conflict-ridden mining industry.

As SkyNews reports, the booming extraction industry has already invested billions of dollars in the country to mine coal, copper, gold and other minerals, making resource-rich Mongolia the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2011.

The road to today’s victory by the Democrats, who branded the ruling MPP as captives of the rich and foreign mining interests, has been full of bumps.

First, a still popular ex-president left the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) only to be arrested on corruption charges days later. Yet, Enkhbayar Nambar’s splinter party in association with another small group took third place, possibly allowing him to be part of the new government.

During a previous election, the Democratic Party in light of voting irregularities, accused the MPP of fraud.  The accusation caused angry supporters to take the streets in a riot that ended with the death of four people.

And early this morning, both the MPP and the breakaway Mongolian People’s Revolutionary party said voting fraud occurred, demanding recounts at several stations. The election commission was due to release results within 12 hours of the polls closing on Thursday night, but had to delay the announcement because of the allegations.

In May, the land-locked Asian country approved a new law that caps future foreign participation in certain industries, including mining, in an attempt to keep profits inside the mineral-rich nation’s borders.

Last year gross domestic product in the nation of fewer than 3 million people expanded by 17.3% and this year it should easily top 20% thanks to billions of dollars of foreign investment in the country’s coal, copper and gold mining industry.

More on Mongolia’s conflict-ridden mining boom >> >>

And more about Mongolia’s mineral wealth in Financial Times’ analysis “A Rocky road to riches” (registration required) >> >>

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