ULAANBAATAR May 4 Mongolia's opposition
Democratic Party on Thursday tapped former judo star and
self-made millionaire Khaltmaa Battulga as its candidate in next
month's presidential election in the landlocked country which is
facing economic crisis.
With just three million people, Mongolia, a former Soviet
satellite best known as the birthplace of the Mongol emperor
Genghis Khan, has long stood as an oasis of democracy,
sandwiched between autocratic giant neighbours China and Russia.
Mongolia's political transformation since a peaceful
revolution in 1990 has been a big plus for foreign investors
eyeing its rich mineral resources.
Mongolians choose their next president on June 26 as
incumbent president and fellow Democrat Tsakhia Elbegdorj
completes his second and final term amid flagging economic
conditions following a short-lived mining boom that left few
The Democrats led a governing coalition from 2012 to 2016
before the Mongolian People's Party won back the parliament last
year, winning 65 seats in the 76-member legislature.
Battulga, a former judo star turned business tycoon, was a
member of parliament before losing his seat last year.
He previously had ministerial roles in roads and transport
as well as agriculture, and is known for his criticism of China,
especially over concerns Mongolia is too economically dependent
on its neighbour.
Mongolia's economy has slid into problems caused by heavy
foreign debt, a collapse in its currency and a slowdown in
growth in its biggest trading partner, China.
The International Monetary Fund has postponed a $5.5 billion
bailout for Mongolia because of a measure included in the
country's 2017 budget that forces foreign firms to bank with
There have also been concerns about the government's growing
Last week blank screens and red text warning about threats
to press freedom interrupted Mongolian television to protest
against planned legal changes media groups say could harshly
punish journalists accused of defamation ahead of
The government subsequently backed down.
(Reporting by Terrence Edwards; Editing by Ben Blanchard)