Mongolia's jailed ex-president denies corruption charges

By bne IntelliNews April 18, 2012

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The family of former president and current opposition leader Nambaryn Enkhbayar, who was arrested April 13 on corruption charges, released a statement on Monday, April 17 denying the charges and claiming that Enkhbayar's civil rights have been abused by the government.

Investors in Mongolia, already spooked by the arrest of Enkhbayar ahead of the June parliamentary elections, were dealt a further blow when it emerged that the license of leading listed mining company SouthGobi Resources has been suspended. The resource authority is reportedly looking into the terms of a major mining deal whereby Chinese Aluminium Corp (Chalco) will take a 57.6% stake in SouthGobi Resources from Canadian mining operator Ivanhoe Mines, the biggest investor into the country.

Enkhbayar's dramatic arrest was broadcast live on TV in the middle of an interview he was giving to TV9, a local news channel. "On April 13, 2012, Nambaryn Enkhbayar was brutally attacked and unlawfully arrested in front of millions of Mongolians. In these attacks the agents of Independent Authority Against Corruption violated Enkhbayar's basic human rights, not to mention the immunity granted to the former President by the 61st decree of the Parliament of Mongolia (dated July 7, 2009)," the statement said, signed by six of Enkhbayar's family members, including his wife Enkhbayar Onon Tsolmon, and distributed by London-based PR outfit Bell Pottinger Group.

The family went on to claim that, "the surveillance camera in his prison cell was removed [at the weekend], which makes us worry that his life may now be in danger," the family said in the statement. "But in addition to that, we worry about our friends and supporters. Many of them received and are still receiving threatening calls to kill them."

Tensions are high in Ulaanbaatar, which in June 2008 saw anti-corruption protests that led to riots and the death of several protestors. About 250 protestors gathered in Sukhbaatar Square in the centre of Ulaanbaatar following the arrest and returned on Monday, April 17 in an attempt to rally support for Enkhbayar, who is aiming to use his still considerable influence in the rural areas of Mongolia to win back votes in the June elections. Enkhbayar is now head of the new MPRP party - a splinter party that took the name of the old Communist Party after the original changed its name to MPP (Mongolian People's Party).

Enkhbayar's arrest was reportedly authorised after the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) demanded Enkbayar attend an investigation, but refused to do so.

Some parliament members have said they will leave the ruling party and change to Enkhbayar's party, the MPRP, according to reports.

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