Mongolia on Presidential Election Second Round

Khaltmaa Battulga a populist former martial arts star has promised to make Mongolians debt free

Khaltmaa Battulga a populist former martial arts star has promised to make Mongolians debt free

Battulga Khaltmaa has claimed victory in Mongolia's Presidential election as counting in the second round of voting draws to a close.

Battulga told The Associated Press late Friday that under his leadership, foreign investment and technology would be welcome in Mongolia - but that he would fight for Mongolians to enjoy greater benefits from such investment. "I will start work straight away to resolve the economic difficulties and make Mongolians debt-free as I promised". The vote tally is not yet final but Battulga appeared to have an insurmountable lead over Miyegombo Enkhbold of the ruling Mongolian People's Party's.

Many voters in the vast nation of 3 million people sandwiched between Russian Federation and China were so fed up with their politicians that they launched a campaign to submit unmarked ballots.

The 54-year-old Democratic Party candidate, who has been head of the Mongolian Judo Association since 2006, has 50.6 per cent of the vote, putting him ahead of his rival Miyeegombyn Enkbold of the ruling Mongolian People's Party.

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The newly elected president will have a support of 5.2 billion euros, partly given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to solve the economic and social problems that Mongolia now faces.

Mongolia's economy grew just 1 percent a year ago, down from 17.5 percent in 2011, when it was the world's fastest-growing.

Battulga, a real estate tycoon whose company funded a massive US$4.1 million statue of emperor Genghis Khan, has pledged to tap the country's mining wealth to get Mongolians out of debt. Sitting President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is not eligible after two stints in office.

Some investors are wary of a Battulga presidency because of his calls for more state control of some mines and his suspicions of China, Mongolia's main trade partner. "That he will put investment in a very hard situation", Battulga said.

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In the run-up to the June 26 first round, mud-slinging between the three candidates overshadowed the issues that most concerned voters, such as the economy and jobs.

Enkhbold squeaked into the second round by a 0.1 percent margin over the candidate of the Mongolian Revolutionary People's Party, which cried foul and demanded a recount.

If no candidate reaches 51 percent of ther votes, the political parties should assign new representatives for new election rounds.

The first round of voting failed to produce a clear victor after campaigns marred by corruption scandals.

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