Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg has replaced six members of his Cabinet, a change Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said could hurt the nation’s economy and further deter foreign investors worried about political stability.
Mongolia has promised to use its vast untapped mineral reserves to develop its economy, but flagship projects have been delayed and foreign investment deterred by political disputes and regulatory uncertainties.
Parliament endorsed the prime minister’s proposal to remove the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) from the coalition government on Friday, meaning the party’s six Cabinet members lost their jobs.
Saikhanbileg, a member of the Mongolian Democratic Party, was appointed last year with a mission to rejuvenate the flagging economy through foreign investment in the mining sector and will retain his position as prime minister.
“[The] vote came after heated debates in the legislature with ‘no love lost’ between MPs from major parties,” Mongolia Metals & Mining research head Dale Choi said in an e-mail to subscribers.
The coalition was expected to last until parliamentary elections in July next year and its early dissolution threatens to disrupt parliamentary decisions on a number of lucrative mining projects.
The Toronto-listed Centerra Gold Inc is awaiting a parliament decision on the stake size the government is to take in the Gatsuurt gold mine it hopes to put into production.
Parliament must also vote on a proposed investment agreement with a private consortium led by China’s Shenhua Energy to develop and mine the huge Tavan Tolgoi coal mine.
Mongolia’s development plans had already been delayed as a result of a two-year dispute with global miner Rio Tinto over the expansion of the US$6.5 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, which was settled in May.
Last week, Elbegdorj, who is also a Democratic Party member, weighed in with a letter condemning the proposed plan to remove the MPP, saying it threatened to destabilize the government.
He said that, in turn, could reflect poorly on the economy.
“It can have a negative impact on society, the economy and the country’s reputation in the international arena,” he said.
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