Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj

Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (Lang-mn|Цахиагийн Элбэгдорж, usually just Elbegdorj) (born March 30, 1963) is a Mongolian politician. He has been one of the principal leaders of the peaceful democratic revolution in 1990 that ended nearly 75 years of communist rule. Elbegdorj has been the Prime Minister of Mongolia twice, the Vice Speaker of Parliament once, the Majority Leader of the Parliament once, and a Member of Parliament three times. He is known as a pro-democracy, libertarian politician.

Early life and education

Elbegdorj (referred to by his first name according to Mongolian practice) is married and has four sons

He was born in the Zereg sum in Khovd Province of Mongolia as the youngest of eight sons of a herder's family. He completed primary and secondary schools in Zereg sum. When he was 16, his family moved to Erdenet and he finished Erdenet city's High School in 1981.

After school, Elbegdorj spent a year as a worker in the Erdenet mining industry. In 1982 he was drafted for the mandatory military service until 1983. Some poems that he submitted to the "Ulaan Od" army newspaper during his service helped him to qualify for a scholarship to the Military Political Institute of the USSR in Lvov (Ukraine) where he earned his BA in Military Journalism in 1988. After that he returned as a journalist to "Ulaan Od" for two years.

After his first term as prime minister, he spent a year at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Economic Institute, earning a Diploma in 2001. In 2002 he graduated from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government with a Master of Public Administration (MPA).

Democratic movement

During his studies in the USSR, Elbegdorj had learned about Glasnost and concepts like freedom of speech and economic liberties. After returning to Mongolia, he met with other interested people and tried to present those ideas to a wider audience, despite attempts at repression from the MPRP and threats by his employer to lose his job.

On the morning of December 10 1989, the first open pro-democracy demonstration met in front of the Youth Palace in Ulaanbaatar. There Elbegdorj announced the creation of the Mongolian Democratic Union. Over the months, the activists continued to organize demonstrations, hunger strikes, as well as teacher's and worker's strikes. They met growing support from the population, both in the capital and on the countryside.

Eventually the MPRP Politburo gave way to the pressure and entered into negotiations with the leaders of the democratic movement, including Elbegdorj. In early 1990, the chairman of the council of ministers (prime minister) Jambyn Batmönkh decided to dissolve the MPRP Politburo and to resign, paving the way for the first multi-party elections in Mongolia ever. Although the communists kept the majority in parliament, reforms were continued and a new Constitution that guaranteed human rights and democracy was adopted on February 12, 1992.

Mongolia became the first democratic country in Central Asia.

Business and Media activities

Elbegdorj founded Mongolia’s first independent newspaper, “Democracy,” and worked as its Editor-in-Chief in 1990. For his efforts to establish and protect free press, Elbegdorj was awarded the “Star of Press Freedom” by The Association of Mongolian Journalists in 2000.

Elbegdorj founded Mongolia's first Entrepreneurs Association, which helped to privatize livestock to herders and to regain their own property from socialist collectives in 1991. Thanks to the privatization, heads of livestock in Mongolia reached more than 30 million at the end of the decade, but fell again after a series of harsh winters. The number had never reached more than 25 million during the socialist years.

He helped create the first politically independent TV station Eagle TV in 1994. It was run by the former Mongolian Broadcasting Company (MBC) (now owned by Eagle Broadcasting Company), a joint-venture between the US non-profit AMONG Foundation (a Christian missionary organization), and the Mongolia Media Corporation (MMC).

Political career

Elbegdorj was elected to the Parliament three times between 1990 and 2000. He was actively involved in the drafting and adoption of Mongolia’s new Constitution, which introduced human rights, democracy and a free market economy to the country.

While Chairman of the State Commission on Rehabilitation, Elbegdorj initiated and realized the state apology for the victims and families of more than 37,000 people who had been persecuted or killed during the years of MPRP rule. He played a key role in the approval of the Rehabilitation Law, which provided rehabilitation, compensation, and recovery from the Stalinist purges and prohibited future violation of human rights.

Elbegdorj, as the head of the major democratic party, co-led the Democratic Union Coalition to its historic victory in the 1996 parliamentary elections.He served as a Majority Leader of the Parliament from 1996 to 2000 and a Vice Speaker of the Parliament from 1996 to 1998.

First term as prime minister

In 1998, a clause of the constitution was removed that prohibited members of parliament to take cabinet responsibility. On April 23 1998, Elbegdorj became Mongolias youngest Prime Minister in recent history. He very quickly became caught up in a controversial decision to sell the state-owned "Reconstruction Bank" to the private Golomt Bank, and within two months of taking office he lost a confidence vote in the Parliament. However he stayed in office until December 9, because of the inability of the parliament and the President to agree on a new Prime Minister, with the President vetoing many proposals from the Democratic Party majority.

Finally in December the President agreed to the parliament's proposal of Janlavyn Narantsatsralt, former Mayor Ulaanbaatar, as Prime Minister, and Elbegdorj had to step down.

Second term as prime minister

On August 20 2004, Elbegdorj became a Prime Minister of Mongolia for the second time, as the second person to hold that office twice.This time he was designated by a grand coalition with the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) and a democratic coalition, after the parliamentary elections had resulted in a tie between the two sides.

In August 2005 Elbegdorj withdrew his promising candidacy for by-elections in one of Ulan Bator's constituencies amid MPRP threats to withdraw from the coalition, paving the way for Ulaanbaatar's mayor Miyeegombyn Enkhbold to become a member of parliament.

In his second term of the government, Elbegdorj proclaimed a fight against corruption and poverty, the biggest obstacles to Mongolia's economic development.Despite the coalition agreement, the MPRP withdrew their ministers from the cabinet on January 13. 2006, forcing Elbegdorj to resign as well. The MPRP proceeded to form a new government with the help of DP defectors and independent MPs who were subsequently rewarded with government posts. The parliament approved Enkhbold as the new prime minister on January 25th 2006. The events triggered strong protests from civic groups and their followers, as well as corruption allegations against high ranking MPRP members. [cite web
title=In Mongolia protest groups collide
work=Mongolia Web
date=April 12, 2006
accessmonthday=April 21
] [cite web
title= Officials targeted for corruption
accessmonthday=February 18

Goals and results

Elbegdorj was instrumental in establishing legislation on Freedom of Press, and freedom of public demonstration. During his government, the formerly state run newspapers, TV, and radio stations were converted into formally independent organisations with less direct control by the government.

He worked to reduce unemployment by supporting technical schools and specialized professions, and by promoting affordable computers and internet access. He attempted to strengthen domstic businesses by reducing the administrative overhead, by eliminating many licensing requirements and import taxes for key product categories. During his government, Mongolia was accepted into the APS agreement together with other 15 development countries, which makes it possible to export most goods to the European Union without customs duties.

International relations

Elbegdorj supports the acceptance of North Korean refugees, who arrive in Mongolia through China and eventually move on to South Korea. [cite web
title=Asian Human Rights Commission - Urgent Appeals Program
date=September 19, 2003
accessmonthday=February 19

Elbegdorj agreed to send a contingent of Mongolian forces to Iraq in support of the international peace keeping efforts in 2005. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/11/21/mongolia.us/index.html?eref=sitesearch "Bush thanks Mongolia for support in Iraq"] , CNN, Novemner22, 2005]

He supported the international appeals to release Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and several Members of the Parliament of Myanmar from house arrest in 2005. [cite web
title=Statement Of Senator Mitch McConnell On Resolution Honoring Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
date=June 16 2005
accessmonthday=February 19

2007 road accident

On July 10, 2007, Elbegdorj was critically injured in an automobile accident on the way from Ulan Bator to Kharkhorin, and received treatment in Mongolia's Trauma Hospital in Ulan Bator, and in South Korea. He suffered critical head injuries, but completely recovered. [cite web
title= Ex-Mongolia PM critical after car crash
date=July 13, 2007
accessmonthday=July 13
] Popular suspicions that the accident might have been a murder attempt in the critical time before the 2008 elections have not been substantiated. [cite web
title= Eagle TV Mongolia broadcasts reactions on Elbegdorj accident - UPDATE
work=Mongolia Web
date=July 13, 2007
accessmonthday=July 13

2008 political unrest and resignation as head of Democratic Party

As DP chairman Elbegdorj was one of the vocal protesters against the results in the June 29th election. The MPRP accused him of promoting the violence that caused the MPRP headquarters to burn down and the Central Cultural Palace to be damaged and looted [cite web
title= Violent protest after Mongolia poll
work=Al Jazeera
date= Thursday, July 03, 2008
accessmonthday=July 06

On September 2, 2008, Elbegdorj resigned as head of the Democratic Party in the aftermath of the party's one-sided defeat in the 2008 elections. He was replaced by N. Altankhuyag.

NGO activities

Elbegdorj is a permanent member of the board of directors of the "Young Leader" foundation of Mongolia since 1992 and a member of the director's board of the Mongolian Academy of Political Education since 1993 He founded Mongolia's Liberty Center, a non-governmental organization advocating human rights, freedom of expression and education in 2000.

On the international arena, Elbegdorj worked as an advisor to the United Nations "Millennium Development Goal" Project in New York City, and for the Broadcasting Board of Governors in Washington DC in 2003. He is a member of the advisory board of the Houston based Bellwether Forum, a US professionals' forum on government, politics, and public policy.

Elbegdorj is a frequent lecturer at many public and private institutions and universities, both in Mongolia and abroad, on topics including transitional issues and the new challenges of international security, freedom and development.

Political affiliation

*Elbegdorj was elected chairman of Democratic Party from Democratic Party's Convention on April 1, 2006. Four candidates ran for the elections and in the second round, the highest scored candidates who are coincidentally two of the 13 democracy leaders Elbegdorj and Bat-Uul ran and Elbegdorj won with 57.2% votes according to Mongolia Web. [Luke Distelhorst: [http://www.mongolia-web.com/content/view/334/2/ "Ts. Elbegdorj Mongolia's New Democratic Party Leader"] , Mongolia Web, April 1, 2006]
*Member of the National Counseling Committee of Democratic Party - which conducts parallel policies with western republican parties.
*Chairman of Democratic Union Coalition of Mongolian National Democratic Party and Mongolian Social Democratic Party in 1996-2000.
*Chairman of Mongolian National Democratic Party in 1996-1999.
*Member of General Council of Mongolian National Democratic Party from 1994.
*Leader of Mongolian Democratic Union in 1989-1997.
*Leader of Mongolian Democratic Party from Apr 2006 to September 2008.


* Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj "Footstep of the Truth Is White", Ulaanbaatar 2000
* Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj "The Years of Bearing Weight", Ulaanbaatar 2000
* Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/20/AR2005112000840.html "Mongolia: Moving Mountains"] , Washington Post, November 21, 2005.

Many other articles, speeches, and interviews by Elbegdorj have been printed in various national and international publications.



* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3583536.stm "Mongolia names new prime minister"] "BBC News", August 20, 2004(About Democratic Coalition won 36 out of 76 seats in parliament and the power sharing agreement, Elbegdorj becomes Prime Minister)

*James Brooke [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/15/international/asia/15mongolia.html?ex=1266210000&en=0130a32542f0b181&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&pagewanted=all "For Mongolians, E Is for English, F Is for Future"] "New York Times", February 15, 2005 (Article on Elbegdorj's government changed second language from Russian into English)
* [http://www.hoover.org/pubaffairs/newsletter/03061/mongolia.html Elbegdorj speaks on Mongolia's transition to capitalism] Hoover Institution, May 20, 2003
* [http://www.bellwetherforum.org/site/article.asp?id=805 "Mongolia elects new leader"] Bellwether Forum, September 6, 2004

*Matthew Davis [http://www.worldviewmagazine.com/issues/article.cfm?id=144&issue=36 "Voting Mongolia"] , "World View" Magazine Online, Volume 17, Number 4, Fall 2004 (Story on Elbegdorj's party campaigning and Mongolians' voting in 2004)
* [http://www.altsean.org/EU&AsiaSanctionsUPDATE.pdf "It is time to act on Burma"] , Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, June 13, 2004
* [http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1108387420&archive=&start_from=&ucat=7& "To move or not to move?"] (Interview about Elbegdorj's initiation of Karakorum development), "UB Post", February 14, 2005
* [http://www.mongolmedia.com Mongolian daily newspapers] , [http://www.sonin.mn newspapers in Mongolian language] , Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 1990-2006
* [http://www.dailynews.mn "Daily News" of Mongolia] , Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 1993-2006
* [http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=86826 "Mongolia ready for protests over political crisis"] "Reuters", January 15, 2006

External links

Reports, interviews, and speeches

*James Brooke [http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2004/12/26/2003216779 "Mongolian PM evolves from journalist to statesman"] , (About Elbegdorj) "New York Times", Page 5, December 26, 2004, [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00C15FB35540C768EDDAB0994DC404482]

*Stuart Frohm [http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=6788 "Mongol Khan-Quest"] , Mackinac Center for Public Policy, September 15, 2004
* [http://www.bellwetherforum.org/site/article.asp?id=789 "Mongolian Prime Minister's remarks"] , Bellwether Forum, September 9, 2004

*Peter & Helen Evans [http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/evans/040327 "One Year Toward Freedom" - part 1] , [http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/evans/040329 part 2] , [http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/evans/040404 part 3] , [http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/evans/040406 part 4] , (Interview with Elbegdorj), "Renew America", March/April, 2004
* [http://www.mongolia-web.com/content/view/32/2/ Letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Elbegdorj] , "Mongolia Web", December 2005
* [http://www.heritage.org/Press/Events/ev053003b.cfm "Communism to Democracy: Lessons from Mongolia on the Eve of the Election Campaign"] (Elbegdorj's talk), Heritage Foundation, May 30, 2003 [http://www.townhall.com/audio/CONTENT/lehrman-053003.ram Webcast of the talk]

Government change in 2006

*Lulu Zhou [http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=510901 "Mongolian PM Out of Office"] "Harvard's Crimson" - Harvard University's daily newspaper, January 20, 2006
* [http://asia.news.yahoo.com/060124/3/2ekr0.html "Mongolians gather for large, snowy protest"] , "Reuters", January 24, 2006

*John J. Tkacik, Jr. [http://www.heritage.org/Press/Commentary/ed012106b.cfm "Stumble on the Steppes"] , the Heritage Foundation's "Press Room", January 21, 2006
* [http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2006/01/15/2003289047 "Mongolia thrown into turmoil after PM is forced out"] "AFP", January 15, 2006

*Sumya Bazar [http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=261129&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__international_news/ "Unrest in Mongolia as coalition govt disintegrates"] "Mail and Guardian", January 12, 2006


* [http://www.liberty-center.org "Liberty Center"] "A Mongolian non-government organization founded by Elbegdorj."
*Henry Jackson Society "British think tank of which Elbegdorj is a patron."

NAME=Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Elbegdorj; Цахиагийн Элбэгдорж (mongolian)
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Former Prime Minister of Mongolia
DATE OF BIRTH=1963 March 30
PLACE OF BIRTH=Zereg, Khovd Province, Mongolia

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