Monday, June 30, 2008
About 74% of the nation’s 1.5 million registered voters participated in the polling, down slightly from the 81% who voted in the election of 2004, which left a hung State Great Khural, with neither of the two major parties able to establish a firm government. Now, the discovery of extensive mineral wealth and concerns over unbridled inflation (15.1% last year) have combined to make this a high-stakes election. Per capita income in the country stands at just $1,500 a year.
Both the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party and the Mongolian Democratic Party support investment agreements to allow the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project in the Gobi Desert to proceed. Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto, the developers of the project, suggest that this mine could boost Mongolia’s GDP by 34% and could be followed by uranium and coal extraction projects.
More than 350 candidates from 12 parties and one coalition ran in the election. Smaller parties argue that allowing the developers to proceed under current contracts would rob Mongolia of its wealth and do irreparable harm to the environment. The law currently gives the government a 50% share in any project where state funds are used and a 34% share in others. A recent proposal would give Mongolia a 51% share in any major project. The MPRP would centralize those holdings in the Mongolian government, and give each citizen a “Gift of the Motherland,” a cash dividend of $1,300 once mining starts. The DP, on the other hand, advocates a Mongolian holding corporation, in which all Mongolians are stakeholders, as well as giving a “Treasure Share” of $860 to each Mongolian. Both parties are also pushing greater economic independence for Mongolia through increased agricultural initiatives and further exploration for oil and natural gas. Currently, Mongolia imports 90% of its oil and natural gas from Russia, a fact Russia has recently used for economic blackmail.
Although the minor parties are unlikely to grab a large percentage of the vote, they may be in a significant position for negotiating if the parliament is again largely split. The MPRP claims that they have secured a majority of the votes in the countryside (40 to 50 of the 76 seats up for grabs), but other reports suggest a dead heat, which might result in a deadlock that could stall key mining deals.
Votes in the capital (typically a DP stronghold) remain uncounted, and there is confusion in some areas due to a new voting system. The old system had each constituency vote for one member of parliament. Now, there are fewer constituencies, but each one votes for several seats in the Great Khural. Voters have been confused, with some circling too many names on the ballot, invalidating their vote. Counting has also been slowed because pollworkers can no longer just stack up ballots as they did before when only one name was circled per ballot. The election committee is suggesting that results may not be available today.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Indianapolis - Dr. Jo Anne Lyon wrote a new chapter in the history of The Wesleyan Church on Monday, June 9, 2008, when she was elected by the Indianapolis, Indiana denomination as its first-ever woman General Superintendent at the Church’s June 7-11, 2008, General Conference in Orlando, Florida. “What a wonderful statement you have made as The Wesleyan Church,” said outgoing General Superintendent Dr. Earle L. Wilson to the nearly 2,000 delegates and guests at the conference.
An ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church, Dr. Lyon is founder of World Hope International and has led the organization to develop successful relief and development projects in more than 30 countries with an annual budget of over $12 million for 2007.
A licensed professional counselor, General Superintendent Lyon had thirty years prior experience in administering urban and rural human service programs before founding World Hope. She has a Bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Cincinnati, a Master’s in Counseling from The University of Missouri-Kansas City, and further graduate work at St. Louis University in Historical Theology. She has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Dr. Lyon will join Dr. Thomas E. Armiger and Dr. Jerry G. Pence on the Board of General Superintendents. Dr. Armiger and Dr. Pence, both incumbents, were elected to new terms earlier Monday, June 9.
The Wesleyan Church is an evangelical, Protestant denomination, which has its roots in John Wesley’s Methodism. The denomination has nearly 400,000 constituents in 5,000 churches and missions in 86 countries around the world.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Mongolia seems to be growing closer and closer to China, and a desire for increasing closeness was expressed by China's Vice President Xi Jinping, who is visiting Mongolia this week. China has been Mongolia's top trading partner and top investor for nearly a decade, and this year has seen a 68% increase in bilateral trade over last year. About 90% of Mongolia's rice, clothing and vegetable imports come from China, and more than 6% of the Mongolian labor force are employees of the 700 Chinese businesses operating in the country. China's geographic proximity makes it easier for them to make the infrastructure investments that put them first in line to tap Mongolia's mineral wealth.
Some Mongolians have expressed displeasure over the rising food costs in their country. In an attempt to alleviate the problem, the government borrowed money to import flour, which they distributed to bread makers at discount prices. However, the bread makers refuse to pay cash for the flour, refuse to store the flour and refuse to accept the set price for bread established by the government. It seems like the government did not do their homework on this one. It's tough switching to a free market economy!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
A 4.2 magnitude earthquake has hit western Mongolia, causing widespread panic. Many people fled their apartments to stay in one-story dwellings or gers. This apparently followed widespread fears last week that an earthquake was about to hit UB. Unfortunately, seismology has not advance to the point where such quakes can be predicted.
On a brighter note, the hand-foot-mouth disease epidemic appears to be slowing. The rate of new infections has dropped to ten new cases per day, a drop from one hundred cases per day. Still, schools remain closed and public activities for children are prohibited. More than 2,000 have contracted the virus, including more than 1,000 in UB. Nearly 200 children are still in the hospital, while 800 more are under a doctor's care.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
Landy G4 Challenge on for Mongolia
Death toll reaches 52 in heavy snowstorm in Mongolia
"RIGHT POLICY-RIGHT CHOICE"
Mongolia: First religious liberty meeting draws government, international religious freedom leaders