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The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
"The new leader claims to model himself on British Prime Minister Tony Blair"
 real 28k

Monday, 3 July, 2000, 06:29 GMT 07:29 UK
Mongolia's ex-communists in landslide win
At a polling station
Most people voted for the ex-communists
Mongolia's former communist rulers have won a landslide victory at the polls after four years in opposition, according to election officials.

Final results have not been announced yet, but state radio gave the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) 72 out of the 76 seats in parliament, known as the Great Hural.

People in the world should understand that we are not communist monsters

Nambariin Enkhbayar, MPRP leader

MPRP leader Nambariin Enkhbayar celebrated by cracking open champagne and appealing to the world not to judge his party by its name.

"People in the world should understand that we are not communist monsters. We are not going to turn back the clock, the only way forward is through democracy," he said.

Mongolians on horseback
Many voters had to travel a long way

Mongolia's expected return to communism follows four years of political and economic turmoil under a reformist coalition which have left many mired in poverty.

The country's woes have been compounded in recent months by a severe drought and bitter winter which have left hundreds of thousands of herders virtually destitute.

Social costs

The MPRP, which ruled Mongolia for 70 years as a communist state and a satellite of the Soviet Union, say they have reinvented themselves in oppposition.

Mr Enkhbayar, 42, who models himself on British Prime Minister Tony Blair, insists the MPRP is now a "centre-left" party committed to reform.

He reiterated campaign pledges to continue the previous democratic coalition government's drive to privatise key state-owned companies and industries.

But he promised to do more to combat the social costs of the painful 10-year transition from Soviet satellite to free market economy.


Election poster
The MRPR says it has reinvented itself
The last four years have been troubled for Mongolia, a country half the size of India but with a population of only 2.5m people.

Four administrations have come and gone, three members of parliament have been jailed in a corruption scandal and a cabinet minister has been murdered.

Attempts to transform the economy have seen huge numbers thrown out of work.

A third of the country is below the poverty line and unemployment now stands at more than 50% in some towns.

Despite an aggressive privatisation programme, economic growth has remained slow.

The government's reform programme has so far failed to attract much foreign investment.

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See also:

02 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Economy to decide Mongolian poll
03 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Blair's fan in Mongolia
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