Enkhbayar, Nambaryn (Mongolia)

Reference work entry


Nambaryn Enkhbayar, the candidate of the ruling MPRP, won presidential elections in May 2005, having been prime minister from 2000–04. He promised to modernize the country and tackle poverty and unemployment.

Early Life

Enkhbayar was born on 1 June 1958 in Ulan Bator. Having graduated from the Gorky Higher Institute of Literature in Moscow in 1980, he returned to Mongolia, working as a literary translator at the Mongolian Writer’s Union and then as head of its foreign relations department. He also studied European literature at Leeds University in the UK in 1986. Enkhbayar’s career in government began on the development committee for culture and art in 1990 as Mongolia embraced democratic reforms, legalized political parties and approved the transition to a market economy. Elected as an MPRP parliamentary representative in 1992, he served as minister of culture until 1996.

When the MPRP was ousted in the elections of June 1996, Enkhbayar replaced Budragchaagiyn Dash-Yondon as leader of the MPRP. He brought in sweeping party reforms, citing Tony Blair’s modernization of the UK Labour Party as his inspiration. The MPRP stormed back to power on 2 July 2000, winning 72 out of 76 parliamentary seats, and Enkhbayar was appointed prime minister.

Career Peak

Enkhbayar launched initiatives such as the Millennium Road, a trans-Mongolian highway linking Russia and China, but progress on economic reforms was slow. When the MPRP’s majority was slashed in the June 2004 elections, Enkhbayar ceded the premiership to Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. He then became parliamentary speaker and stood as the MPRP candidate in the 2005 presidential election. Having been proclaimed the victor, he was sworn in on 24 June. He vowed to unite the country after a year of instability and public protests and pledged to reduce unemployment and inflation and tackle corruption. However, following the MPRP’s disputed victory in the June 2008 parliamentary elections, he declared a four-day state of emergency in response to rioting in the capital which left at least five people dead and hundreds injured.

At presidential elections on 24 May 2009 Enkhbayar lost to Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of the Democratic Party.

Later Life

In Aug. 2012 Enkhbayar was jailed for 4 years after having been convicted of corruption. He denied the charges, claiming that they were politically motivated. He was released in Aug. 2013 following a decree by then president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.

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