Dismissing the Speaker, just politics

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Thousands Mongolians took to the streets to protest on December 27, 2018 and on January 7, led by lawmakers L.Bold, J.Batzandan, L.Oyun-Erdene and T.Ayursaikhan, from both the Democratic and Mongolian People’s parties.

Whilst most of the media reported it was a protest against corrupt government, in fact, the only message of the protest was against the speaker of the parliament, M.Enkhbold, for his improper actions during his time as head of the Mongolian People’s Party. An alleged tape recording of a discussion between M.Enkhbold other high level members of the party to “sell” government positions to raise 60 billion MNT (23 million USD) made headlines two years ago, and again last year.

The thousands protesters were demanding that the speaker resign voluntarily.

On the other hand, an amendment to the Act of Parliament was passed last week, which makes it possible for Parliament to oust the speaker on the basis of a no confidence vote (or signature) of at least 40 members of Parliament.

The term of office of the speaker is generally four years pursuant to Article 10.1 of the Act of Parliament of Mongolia. However, under Article 10.2 of the same law, there are five grounds for the speaker’s resignation before the end of his/her term of office, being:

(i) if the speaker dies;

(ii) if the speaker had to take up another position or voluntarily resigns and parliament accepts the resignation;

(iii) if the speaker is diagnosed as being seriously ill and therefore is not able to continue his/her dutiesy and parliament accepts the diagnosis;

(iv) if the Constitutional Court (Constitutional Tsets) issues an opinion that there is legal basis to remove the speaker and the parliament accepts the opinion; and

(v) if there court  the speaker committed crime(s).

According to the legal interpretation, unless the speaker dies, the speaker does not have right to resign of his own volition. Rather, Parliament must accept the speaker's request to resign.  If Parliament does not accept the request, diagnosis, opinion and/or the order issued from the relevant authorities, the speaker shall be obliged to continue his duties for the duration of his term in office. But why is this so?

This is party to ensure the immunity and independency of the speaker as it is a high level state position, and one of the few members of Mongolia's Security Council. In other words, no one should be able to influence the speaker in an unlawful way to demand his removal as such an authority would make it possibly will to use the speaker’s position for one’s personal or political faction’s purpose. This is why we have concepts like immunity.

With regard to the “lawful” way to remove the speaker before the end of his/her term of office, “If there is any issue with the speaker, members of Parliament should solve the problem not by appealing to protests, but by coming to a parliamentary session. This is the law,” said L.Enkh-Amgalan Luvsantseren, deputy speaker of Parliament.

Yet, Parliament has been unavailable to hold its regular fall session for over a month as lawmakers boycotted sessions in protest of the speaker which meant the quorum requirement under the constitution was not met and sessions had to be canceled. Pursuant to Article 27.6 - “The presence of a majority of members shall be required to consider a session of Parliament and standing committee valid, and decisions shall be taken by the majority voting of all members present.”

The president’s bill to amend the Act of Parliament has been passed and is now effective. Anyone who wants to oust the speaker, who is one of three members of the state Security Council, only needs 40 signatures to hold a vote against the speaker in Parliament no matter what interest or justification they have.

On the other hand, many also accuse that the members who were refusing to participate the session and are still leading the protest have ulterior motives. This could possibly be true. According to information from reliable sources, who claims that he got the information from the Constitutional Court of Mongolia, the Department of State Prosecutor informed the court that cases have been opened against the members of Parliament who are accused of having misappropriated the State Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises Development. Those leading the protests are seen as having links with the group that engaged in the Small and Medium Enterprises loan misappropriation.

In conclusion, it looks like the protests were never about justice and responsibility but merely a fight between two big factions of the Mongolian People’s Party, the absolute majority of the current Parliament. They could have done whatever they want to, but only when they are united. The absence of unity may indicate that we need some serious amendments to our constitution to ensure the sustainability of our government and Parliament.

Myagmardorj Buyanjargal
Myagmardorj is a freelance writer who holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from the National University of Mongolia and Bachelor of Science Degree in engineering in mining technology from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.