08 July, 2017
Battulga Khaltmaa has claimed victory in Mongolia's Presidential election as counting in the second round of voting draws to a close.
Voter data was released on Saturday by the General Election Commission. "In his message of congratulations, the President of Russian Federation stressed the traditionally friendly and neighbourly relations between Russian Federation and Mongolia and expressed an interest in further expanding mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas in the interests of the two countries' peoples", the Kremlin's press service said.
A brash businessman with martial arts skills was leading Mongolia's first-ever presidential run-off election early on Saturday after a scandal-plagued race to take the helm of the resource-rich but debt-laden country. "I will start work straight away to resolve the economic difficulties and make Mongolians debt-free as I promised".
He trailed far behind Mr Battulga with 41.2 percent of the vote due to the almost 100,000 blank votes submitted in protest at the choice of candidates.
Parliament speaker Mieygombo Enkhbold of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), which holds the majority in the legislature, was behind with 41 percent. The remaining ballots were blank.
Both candidates were accused of corruption during their respective campaigns, that is why most of the voters did not vote for them.
The new president will inherit a $5.5bn International Monetary Fund-led bailout created to stabilise its economy and lessen its dependence on China, which buys 80 percent of Mongolian exports.
Mongolia's economy grew just 1 percent previous year, down from 17.5 percent in 2011, when it was the world's fastest-growing.
The outgoing president, Tsakhia Elbegdorj of Battulga's Democratic Party, did not run because he served the maximum two four-year terms.
Some investors are wary of a Battulga presidency because of his calls for more state control of some mines and his suspicions of China, Mongolia's main trade partner.
About 87 pet cent of the votes have been counted but but election officials are still awaiting a final count of votes from overseas.
Battulga rose to fame as a Mongolian wrestler. "That he will put investment in a very hard situation", Battulga said.
The first round of voting failed to produce a clear victor after campaigns marred by corruption scandals.