01/14/2006, 00.00
MONGOLIA
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Parliament withdraws confidence from government

The crisis was set by the MPRP, which has half the seats in parliament and is getting ready to form a new government. The people are holding rallies against the crisis.

Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mongolia's political crisis is official: yesterday parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the government, thus making official the dissolving of the coalition of the two largest parties.

At night, 39 of the 76 MPs voted against the government. "Parliament will reconvene either on Wednesday or Thursday when... a new government will be formed," Sanjaasuren Oyun, leader of the Civil Will party.

The crisis started on 11 January with the resignation of 10 ministers belonging to the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP). The MPRP, heir of the Communist Party, led by Nambar Enkhbayar, President of the State, garnered 38 out of 76 seats in the 2004 elections, after enjoying an absolute majority since the end of the Soviet era in 1991.

Its rival, the Democratic Party of Premier, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, took 34 seats. The coalition between these two parties has so far assured a stable government. Now it appears that the MPRP wants to take full control of the government, perhaps with the support of small parties or individual MPs elected with other political forces.

Those who stepped down blame the government for slow economic growth and inflation. Premier Elbegdorj has countered by saying that "the economy has stabilised and a growth rate of around 7% is foreseen for this year." R. Gonchigodori of the PD said the resignations came shortly before Parliament was to discuss possible cases of corruption in the MPRP. There have been protests by the people, which largely seemed to be in favour of a stable coalition government. On 12 January, when news of an imminent crisis broke, hundreds of demonstrators in Ulaan Batar marched on the MPRP headquarters and damaged it. There were no other violent incidents and police quickly brought the situation under control.

Mongolia is one of the few Central Asian states which have arrived at quite a stable democracy since the fall of the Soviet Union. Wedged between China and Russia, it is also allied with the United States, often described as "the third [political] neighbour". It sent a small – but symbolically extremely important – armed force to Iraq.

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