Former Mongolian president released on bail

By bne IntelliNews May 15, 2012

bne -

Former Mongolian President Nambar Enkhbayar was released on bail on May 14 after staging a hunger strike.

Enkhbayar, who was arrested on corruption charges on April 13, is now reported to be recovering in hospital from his week-long hunger strike. The former president denies the charges, which his supporters say are politically motivated. He had been planning to stand in Mongolia's June 2012 elections as the leader of a new political party.

Enkhbayar's family released a statement on April 17 claiming that his civil rights are being abused by the government, amidst suspicion that it is bidding to prevent him challenging for power. President of Mongolia from 2005 until he was narrowly defeated by current president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj in the 2009 elections, he previously served a prime minister between 2000 and 2004.

Along with two other parliament members, Enkhbayar launched the "new" MPRP party, an offshoot from the existing Mongolian People's Party (previously the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, or MPRP). Frontier Securities writes in an analyst note that given Enkhbayar's continuing popularity in Mongolia, especially in the countryside, the new MPRP is expected to emerge as a new political force alongside the MPP and DP, creating a third party swing factor between the two main contenders.

With large and virtually untapped reserves of coal, uranium and other materials, together with its posting on China's doorstep, Mongolia has become a highly attractive investor destination. However, Enkhbayar's arrest, together with fears about resource nationalism, has added to concerns about the country's future stability.

The arrest has alarmed investors, who have flocked to Mongolia in recent years as the country shot onto the international radar as one of the fastest growing, high potential frontier markets. While other economies faltered, Mongolia's GDP shot up by 17.3% in 2011.

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