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Agendas behind the Amnesty Law

By B.KHASH-ERDENE

The President’s partial veto of the Amnesty Law was approved by Parliament earlier this week, after interesting debates between the Mongolian People’s Party and Democratic Party.

As soon as the amended Amnesty Law was passed in August, President Ts.Elbegdorj placed a partial veto on sections of the law that allowed suspects and perpetrators of bribery, corruption, and abuse of state position to run free, and even end current ongoing investigations into such cases.

The sixth amendment to the Amnesty Law was originally meant to free those who were convicted of minor and accidental crimes and first time offenders, especially female convicts with young children and juvenile criminals, to decrease the prison population in Mongolia. The amendment was later criticized for being too broad, allowing those suspected and sentenced for bribery, corruption, and abuse of state positions to get away with their crimes. It would even stop ongoing investigations of corruption cases, as well as future discoveries of such crimes by the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC), which works under the President of Mongolia.

Who masterminded the Amnesty Law?

After the President’s partial veto, Parliament members of the Democratic Party, such as M.Batchimeg, pointed a finger at former President N.Enkhbayar’s Justice Coalition, which developed the bill, as being responsible for the inclusion of the section granting amnesty to the corrupt.

“The Justice Coalition led the working group for developing the Amnesty Law and they worked very actively on it. Some Parliament and Cabinet members who were in the working group mentioned that the questionable provisions in the law were forcefully included by the coalition. It’s quite clear to the public that former President N.Enkhbayar is behind all of this,” she said in an interview with News.mn.

N.Enkhbayar was convicted of corruption and abuse of power in 2012, and later pardoned by President Ts.Elbegdorj after a prolonged hunger strike in a prison hospital. Many believe that N.Enkhbayar’s recent return to Mongolia from South Korea, where he reportedly received treatment after the hunger strike, is a sign that he is ready to return to Mongolian politics.

A clash of ideals or agendas?

Indeed, the Justice Coalition and some Democratic Party members have been vocal about their opposition to the partial veto, but their arguments against it were found to be far too feeble in the eyes of the public and local media.

Democratic Party member MP R.Gonchigdorj implied that the IAAC has too much power, as it is able to investigate and arrest any state official, and that the Amnesty Law is needed to keep its power at bay.

“The President placed a veto on the wrong sections, it wasn’t right. I don’t want to separate people into those who support and don’t support corruption today. Anti-corruption establishments should work to prevent crimes. The distribution of justice and power must be revaluated. Why were 22 police officials involved in corruption. This targeting has to stop. In other words, how these ex officio cases come about needs to be clarified. We need answers to these questions from the IAAC,” said MP R.Gonchigdorj at the parliamentary discussion of the President’s partial veto.

He went on to say that the President was not able to meet his goals through the partial veto, and raved on about how the veto violates the rights of those who were pardoned.

“I do not support this veto, as the President’s goals and aims were clear. His veto did not achieve his goal… There was a principle that pardoned individuals will not be detained for even a single day. But it has been nearly a month [since the approval of the Amnesty Law]. How will their rights be ensured? Think about this. Approval of the veto is inappropriate.”

The Mongolian People’s Party has been in favor of the partial veto since it’s placement, and members of the party in Parliament said they would vote in favor of the veto before the session began.

“The President’s veto should be accepted. The veto was placed accurately, and its reasoning was sound. The President said that amnesty shouldn’t be granted to those who were involved in bribery, corruption, and abuse of power,” said D.Demberel of the Mongolian People’s Party.

Disarming the IAAC

Some political observers believe that there was more to the Amnesty Law than a vaguely hidden agenda to pardon corrupt high ranking officials, and in the significance of the President’s veto.

If the veto hadn’t been made, one thing the Amnesty Law would do would be to disarm the IAAC, which is viewed by many politicians as the President’s main weapon against political adversaries. The IAAC investigates, arrests, and files cases against anyone deemed corrupt, and the courts of Mongolia are under the President of Mongolia, giving him nearly total power over the country’s judiciary system.

Some observers, and myself, believe that President Ts.Elbegdorj intends to continue his political career after his presidency, and that taking away the IAAC’s power away would greatly hinder his political maneuvers in the future.

Mongolia’s parliamentary election will take place next year, and many speculate what the Democratic Party will do to ensure its dominance after screwing up the country’s economy and scaring away investors with harsh policies. Mongolia’s GDP growth is at three percent, but when the Democratic Party took over Parliament in 2012, GDP had recorded 17.5 percent growth in the previous year.

Unless the Democratic Party has an ace up its sleeve, the Mongolian People’s Party will surely come up victorious in the upcoming election. The current Ch.Saikhanbileg government doesn’t have much it can claim to have achieved within its short reign. The start of the second phase of Oyu Tolgoi, made possible through a mildly controversial closed meeting in Dubai, is the only credit it can claim.

In contrast, the previous N.Altankhuyag was able to build roads, infrastructure, and factories with varying degrees of success, and laid the foundation for economic development, albeit with the heavy cost of government debt and the loss of foreign investment.

According to economist and UB Post columnist D.Jargalsaikhan, the government is not telling the truth about Mongolia’s external debt.

“Mongolia’s external debt is not equal to 55 percent of our economy as the government claims. It is actually as big as 90 percent of our economy if we take into account the currency swap agreement established with China, and the amount of debt owed by companies owned by the Development Bank of Mongolia,” he asserted.

Instability in the economic and political arena of Mongolia is likely, as repayment of the government’s debts is expected to place a heavy burden on the economy, with experts predicting that it will be paid back with more loans with less favorable conditions. All anyone in the government says, in an increasingly desperate manner, is that they want to increase foreign investment to boost the country’s economy.

Despite the political turmoil, the President’s reign remains strong, and some believe it is due to his ability to lock up and investigate his opponents through the IAAC, thereby discrediting them. But the IAAC and courts shouldn’t be able to lockup the innocent, which further fuels the deep-rooted public distrust and the belief that everyone at the top is corrupt.

So was the partial veto on the Amnesty Law put in place to fight corruption, or so the President could keep his power through the IAAC? Either way, the results seems similar. Less impunity and leniency towards the plague of corruption at the top can only do good for the nation.

In Mongolia, Parliament sets the rules, government manages the money, and the President controls the military and justice system. In a state rotten with crooks, the man with the biggest stick seems to be the one with the power to impose “justice”.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=16297

Posted by on Sep 21 2015. Filed under Opinion, Politics, Онцлох мэдээлэл. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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