Mongolia's incoming President Battulga pledges economic balance

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Ulaanbaatar, July 10 : With Battulga Khaltmaa of Mongolia's leading opposition Democratic Party set to assume the presidency on Monday, the former communist state could begin to significantly restructure its economy, reducing its reliance on neighboring China and strengthening ties to other world powers.

Mongolia's election commission on Sunday certified the results of Friday's runoff election, declaring Battulga the victor with 50.6 per cent of the vote. The 54-year-old former martial arts star soundly defeated rival Enkhbold Miyegombo of the ruling Mongolian People's Party, who fetched 41.2 per cent of the vote. Some 60.7 per cent of Mongolia's 1.99 million eligible voters turned out.

Mongolia's incoming President Battulga pledges economic balance

Diversifying Mongolia's economic relations with the rest of the world is a top priority for the president-elect. Currently, China takes in some 80% of Mongolia's exports, the bulk of which are raw materials. The new government is expected to forge closer relations with partners such as Japan, Russia and the U.S., cultivating greater independence from its powerful neighbor. This strategy accords with the nationalist tone struck by Battulga's campaign, as well as his pledge to rectify conspicuous wealth inequality in the country.

The president-elect nevertheless pledged Saturday night to work with his party's nine lawmakers to put pressure on the ruling party, and to work hard for the Mongolian people. Battulga will need to pick his battles carefully: Antagonizing the People's Party could bring legislative work to a halt.

The run-off was scheduled after the June 26 vote failed to result in a outright winner.

Some investors have been wary of a Battulga presidency because of his calls for more state control of some mines and his suspicions of China, Mongolia's biggest trade partner.

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