Mongolians vote to elect new president

Beijing, Jun 9 (EFE).- Mongolians were voting Wednesday in a presidential election that will mark a leadership change amid the coronavirus pandemic, which left 1,312 new infections and six more deaths Tuesday in the country, according to state news agency Montsame.

More than 2 million Mongolian citizens were called to the 2,087 polling stations scattered around the country to elect the country’s president until 2027. The incumbent will replace Khaltmaagiin Battulga for six years, since a reform approved by parliament in 2019 extended presidential mandates to six years from four years.

On Apr. 16, the Constitutional Court said the rule would not only apply to future presidents, but also Battulga — one of the richest men in the country and a former champion of sambo wrestling.

Polling stations opened at 07:00 local time (23:00 GMT on Tuesday) and are scheduled to close at 22:00 local time (14:00 GMT), after which the counts will proceed.

At 08:00 local time Wednesday (00:00 GMT), the presidential candidate and former prime minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh (of the ruling Mongol People’s Party and heir to the former Communist Party) went to a college to vote in person.

On his side, candidate Dangaasuren Enkhbat (from an opposition coalition) voted electronically, since he was infected with coronavirus during the campaign and is hospitalized.

The third candidate in the running is Sodnomzundui Erdene, from the Democratic Party, to which the current president of the country belongs.

While the party has held the presidency since 2017, the People’s Party has a parliamentary majority, revalidated in June of last year, and controls the government.

According to local press, elections will have 43 observers from foreign and international organizations, in addition to 40 registered local journalists.

Images published by local press show measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as physical distancing in polling stations, the use of masks and temperature measurements of voters.

To date, the country has registered 69,022 infections of the virus, of which 324 patients have died. EFE


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