August 25, 2017 / 11:11 AM / a year ago

Mongolian leader urged to resign after party's loss in presidential vote

ULAANBAATAR (Reuters) - Some legislators in Mongolia have urged Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat to step down following the defeat of his ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) in recent presidential elections.

An MPP legislator, Tumurbaatar Ayursaikhan, said on Twitter that 30 out of the parliament’s 76 members have signed a petition calling for Erdenebat’s resignation. Ayursaikhan posted a copy of the petition on social media.

On Friday, the office of the prime minister did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the petition.

The MPP gained power in mid-2016 in elections in which it won 65 of parliament’s 76 seats.

But in last month’s second round of the presidential vote, former martial arts star and businessman Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party defeated the MPP candidate, parliamentary speaker Mieeygombo Enkhbold.

The defeat was seen as a rejection of the MPP government’s austerity policies and a reaction to allegations of corruption.

In Mongolia’s parliamentary democracy, the prime minister is the leader of the government, and the president has limited powers including the ability to veto legislation and to propose laws to parliament.

Since the former Soviet satellite transitioned to a parliamentary democracy in 1990, government reshuffles have been common in Mongolia. No prime minister has completed a full four-year term since 2004.

Higher coal prices this year have helped the resource-dependent economy gain momentum. But earlier this year, a slump in foreign investment and declining commodity prices forced Mongolia to agree to a $5.5 billion economic bailout led by the International Monetary Fund, to relieve fiscal strains and try to restore investor confidence.

A senior MPP official, who insisted on anonymity, said the party would discuss possible changes in leadership next month as it bids to restore public confidence and get the country’s economic affairs back in order.

Analysts said if there is a leadership reshuffle in the MPP, that would likely mean more delays for crucial investment projects, including a rail line to boost exports to China, which has languished because of government indecision and a lack of financing.

Reporting by Terrence Edwards; Editing by David Stanway and Richard Borsuk

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