ULAN BATOR May 7 A lawyer for Mongolia's
arrested former president, Nambar Enkhbayar, has accused the
government of waging a politically motivated campaign against
him in order to stop him contesting parliamentary elections in
Nambar Enkhbayar, arrested on April 13 as prosecutors began
investigating charges of corruption, served as president from
2004 to 2009 and heads the Mongolian People's Revolutionary
Party (MPRP), an important participant in next month's vote.
Foreign investors are waiting to see how the arrest will
affect the elections, with legislators considering a series of
contentious new mining policies as well as the fate of the
$6-billion Tavan Tolgoi coal mine near the Chinese border.
Enkhbayar's MPRP was expected to erode the support of the
ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) in the vote, and his
lawyer, Oktober Basankhuu, said the detention - likely to last
until after the June 28 poll - was designed to remove him and
his party from the contest.
"The whole purpose of his detention is not to corroborate
the investigation," said Basankhuu.
"It's clearly to imprison and isolate him. They decided the
outcome long ago," Basankhuu said, referring to Enkhbayar's
The investigation office of Mongolia's anti-corruption
agency declined to comment.
Mongolia's tiny economy is set grow at record rates over the
next decade as the government cashes in on big and mostly
untapped deposits of coal, copper, gold and uranium.
But investors have expressed concern about the resilience of
its democracy and the strength of its legal system.
Populism and "resource nationalism" ahead of the election
have caused alarm, with parliamentarians calling for deals to be
renegotiated and for "strategic resources" to be taken over by
Last year, nationalists in parliament failed to persuade the
government to renegotiate a landmark 2009 agreement that granted
Canada's Ivanhoe Mines a 66 percent stake in the giant
Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine.
Trying to placate growing unease about the way mines are
being sold to foreign companies, Mongolia has also said it would
review the licenses of Canadian coal miner SouthGobi Resources
after its parent, Ivanhoe, said it would sell up to
Chinese aluminium giant Chalco.
Opinion polls suggest that Enkhbayar's arrest has merely
compounded the uncertainty ahead of the vote, said Luvsandendev
Sumati, a pollster with the Sant Maral Foundation in Ulan Bator.
"More than half of the respondents are undecided. The arrest
has just increased their numbers," he said.
(Reporting by Terrence Edwards; Editing by David Stanway and