The Fall Session of the Mongolian Parliament opened on 4 October. One of the most important items on its agenda was the appointment of the new Prime Minister. The ruling Mongolian People’s Party had long scuffle and argument before all the MPP members in the Parliament were able to reach an understanding on the choice for the 30th Prime Minister.
At the opening of the Fall Session, Mongolian President Kh. Battulag, who introduced the Prime Ministerial candidate, expressed the confidence that the candidate Khürelsükh would uphold the rule of law and justice, and work together to accomplish a lot for common interest and for the solution of pressing problems and challenges.
Earlier, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on State Affairs with a 100 percent vote in favor endorsed the nomination of Khürelsükh as the new Prime Minister, which was an important development.
Indeed, the new Prime Minister faces stupendous task of addressing the main chronic and outstanding problems and challenges in the society and the society also has huge expectations from him and his new team.
Who said what…
S. Javkhlan, independent MP: “Compared to previous Deputy Prime Ministers I think that Khürelsükh has done and accomplished a lot. Khürelsükh was personally involved in managing natural disasters. He earned the respect of many a people for his decision to ensure that the race horse during the Naadam Games would be exclusively for the Mongol breed horses. Mongolians are closely following your actions and moves,” and wished him success.
While O Baasankhüü, the sole MP from the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party said, “I believe that we have the possibility of increasing the salaries of teachers and medical personnel to an average of 1 million tögrög. The draft 2018 budget, which was submitted to the Parliament has been retracted but under the law it should have been submitted before 1 October. Who will take the responsibility for this?”
S. Erdene, MP and Chairman of the Democratic Party: “Oyu Tolgoi is refusing to allow Mongolia to monitor its production. Will you be able to fix foreign companies who are acting as they please? Will you continue with the single-prop economy? Or would you pursue a multi-pro economic policy? Will the children’s money be given out and fully? Your party is also saying that this is possible.”
B. Bat-Erdene, MP and acting Defense Minister: “People are unhappy and resentful that justice is being trampled underfoot. In the last 20 years we have been pursuing an erroneous commodity policy. As of today, more than 3,000 mining licenses have been issued. More seriously, the money that is coming from the mining industry is feeding a handful of people. Will you tackle this issue?
D. Terbishdagva, MP from the MPP: How is the new Government planning to address such issues as the Dubai Agreement, the Tavantolgoi project, the 49 percent shares of Erdenet, the Egiin Gol hydropower project? Will you appoint Ministers wearing a double del (meaning ministers from among the MPs)?” To this the Prime Minister responded saying that “Oyu Tolgoi and the Dubai Agreement will be reviewed. These issues will be considered within the framework of international treaties and conventions in the event they violate the Mongolian laws.”
Ya. Sanjmyatav, MP from Democratic Party: “The public had been on your side. And now as soon as you are appointed, the public will demand action and outcome. You will have to shoulder the entire burden. The economic situation is in a bad shape. I think that the Erdenebat Government, together with the International Monetary Fund, made good progress. Don’t discard the legacy left behind by Prime Minister Erdenebat and Finance Minister Choijilsüren. You must fully disburse the child money. You are in the minority, but it is said that you will be in the majority together with the Democratic Party.”
After much ado, Ukhnaa Khürelsükh was endorsed as the new 30th Prime Minister and his next task was to form his Cabinet. There were rumors flying all over that Khürelsükh would have a fresh approach when lining up his Cabinet members. This was also what the public expected and looked for. But Khürelsükh alone remained a non-elected person to head a 16-member Cabinet, with all the remaining 15 Ministers concurrently elected as members of the State Ikh Khural. Some justification was given to this that the Prime Minister would need all these MPs as his ministers because the Prime Minister alone is outside of the Parliament and would not know what’s cooking in the Parliament.
PM Khürelsükh still faces daunting task of keeping his Cabinet intact.
Last week, the President imposed a veto on a resolution of the Parliament appointing Chimed Khürelbaatar as the country’s Finance Minister on grounds that Khürelbaatar has a conflict of interest and that he represents those households who are connected to each other with interests in the infrastructure and the mining sectors.
Under relevant law, the Parliament has to discuss the Presidential veto and provide sufficient justification to override the veto, otherwise the PM may have to go on a ‘hunt’ for a replacement.
Tragedy strikes at Mount Otgontenger
On 22 October the local emergency ser-vices of Zavkhan aimag reported that 17 of the 27 mountain climbers had gone missing on Mount Otgontenger and immediately launched a rescue operation on the day. The rescue operation was launched after receiving information from one of the 10 mountaineers who got down.
The Cabinet headed by the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Chairman of the National Emergency Management Commission (photo left) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) held emergency meetings and a search and rescue operation was launched.
More than 200 rescuers, including medical personnel, 30 machines and equipment and 2 helicopters were mobilized to search for the missing 17 mountain climbers.
On the third day of their mission, all the 17 bodies were recovered. The 17 mountaineers included 3 women and 14 men climbers.
The accident happened when the mountaineers ran into a snow avalanche when they were descending.
A ban to ascent Mount Otgontenger was imposed in 2015 by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and according to preliminary reports the mountain climbers, despite the ban, had not taken permission to climb.
Mount Otgontenger is the highest peak of the Khangai Mountains in Zavkhan aimag in west Mongolia. It is 4,008 meters above the mean sea level and is the only peak in the Khangai Mountain range that is capped with a permanent glacier.
Below: NEMA photo: rescuers