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Calumny – the making of false and defamatory statements about someone in order to damage their reputation – is becoming one of the most common tactics in current politics. The use of social media is one of the main means politicians use to spread false or at least unsubstantiated accusations about anyone who may be standing in the way of their political ambitions.

Former President Ts.Elbegdorj held an interview with six journalists on February 13, where he claimed that he is one of the “next victims” of President Kh.Battulga. “The only thing that they do is slander somebody and make the public believe that there is a worse thief than them, so that they can carry out their own thefts.”

The main or the only reason why the former president is making such a “big come back” is the statement that President Kh.Battulga made when he attended the Directing Staff Meeting of the Prosecution Organization on January 16. During meeting, the president handed over a 179-page material, allegedly proving that Mr.Elbegdorj misappropriated the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit.

With regard to the document, General Prosecutor M.Enkh-Amgalan said, “I am obliged to work in conformity with law. I must not get any orders from any of the high level officials of the state. If so, I might fall into a breach of law or obligations that I am required to follow by law.” To which Kh.Battulga responded, “I am here as a citizen of Mongolia, not as the president of the country”.

We have never heard such a statement before. Once you get elected, you are the president of Mongolia for every second of your life for the whole four-year term, and your dignity and immunities are protected by laws. Article 36.2 of the Constitution of Mongolia states, “The dignity and immunity of the president shall be protected by law”. But you cannot simply say, “Oh, I have two hats, white and black. When I put on my white hat, I am a citizen of Mongolia. When I put on my black hat, I am the president of Mongolia.”

A statement that one of the journalists made during the interview with Ts.Elbegdorj was indeed a point that each and every presidents of Mongolia must take account of. Journalist at Artanyan stated, “So, you two are throwing out some facts, information and even documents at each other. And now the people of this country will split again into two groups and fight against each other…”. 

The presidents of Mongolia must be the symbol of the unity of the people of Mongolia not a point of division. Article 30.1 of the Constitution of Mongolia states, “The president shall be the head of state and embodiment of the unity of the Mongol people.

President Kh.Battulga also stated in different meetings that his predecessor is behind the privatization of Erdenet Corporation.

The only point that Ts.Elbegdorj made in his interviews related to Erdenet went on, “We, the people of Mongolia are aspiring to the supreme objective of building a humane and democratic civil society in the country,” which according to him is under threat. Meaning that since a private company, Mongolian Copper Corporation LLC, bought the 49 percent of Erdenet, it’s now private property that the state cannot interfere with without any legal basis, which is one of the fundamental principles of our Constitution. As Article 1.2 of the Constitution of Mongolia states, “The fundamental principles of the activities of the state shall be democracy, justice, freedom, equality and national unity and respect for the law.”

On the other hand, some researchers explain that the way in which the acquisition of Erdenet occurred is equally important. Meaning that, Erdenet Corporation was established through a Mongolian and Soviet Union agreement, which makes it an international agreement (bilateral treaty) under relevant laws. However, the Law on Treaty of Mongolia has been changed on December 1, 2016. The previous law, which was passed by Parliament in February 28, 1993, and the current one define treaties in identical fashion. In these laws, a treaty basically refers to bilateral and/or multilateral negotiations between Mongolia and one and/or more state(s) and/or international organization(s), according to Article 3.1 of the old law and 3.1.1 of the new law. The old law was in force when Mongolian Copper Corporation LLC “bought” the 49 percent from a Russian state-owned company. Therefore, it was essential that Parliament hold a session on this “purchase”, as it holds the highest power among the state branches and possesses the right to make decisions on any bilateral or multilateral agreements which Mongolia is a party to. Therefore, if there was any amendment, changes or just simply any other matter arising from the agreement, Parliament should have been involved and the final decision should have been passed by Parliament. The fact that no discussion was held by Parliament with respect to the agreement makes it non-compliant with the laws, some legal researchers explain.

As we look back at all the previous presidents of Mongolia, each has had a different legacy, but still had performed their constitutional obligation to aspire to embody national unity. I do want to remember my current president as one of the embodiments of the unity of the country too.

Myagmardorj Buyanjargal
Myagmardorj is a freelance writer and certified translator 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.