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Cablegate: Competition for Mprp Chairmanship Intensifies; Coalition At

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUM #0061 0570824
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260824Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3440
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 0309
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6633
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 2889
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4093
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3721

UNCLAS ULAANBAATAR 000061

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MG
SUBJECT: Competition for MPRP Chairmanship Intensifies; Coalition at
Stake

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Various members of the Mongolian People's
Revolutionary Party (MPRP) Steering Council are pushing to set a
date for a party conference where a new leader would be chosen to
succeed the ailing S. Bayar. Bayar's prolonged illness and ongoing
treatment in Seattle has put party work on hold in the run up to the
Spring session of Parliament. Nevertheless, he has made no
political statement in recent days except to say that the coalition
government with the Democratic Party must continue. Last week, MPRP
Secretary General and contender to succeed Bayar, U. Khurelsukh,
traveled to consult Bayar. Observers believe that even if a party
conference does not oust Bayar from the chairmanship, it is likely
to discontinue the increasingly unpopular coalition government.
Reports state that the MPRP is likely to hold its conference on
March 20. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) Despite Bayar's grip on life in a Seattle hospital, the
MPRP search for a new party leader has already begun. Current Prime
Minister, S. Batbold, stands the best chance, as traditionally the
two posts have been held by the same person. The current
circumstances are exceptional; the resignation of the highly
esteemed S. Bayar as Prime Minister for health reasons was a shock
to the party membership, who out of respect acceded to his continued
chairmanship. Now, with the passage of time they have begun to
question the wisdom of that decision.

3. (SBU) S. Batbold himself is unlikely to challenge S. Bayar if the
latter decides to carry on. Bayar handpicked him, and to challenge
him directly would be regarded as an act of ingratitude. Rather, he
has set up an ambitious agenda over the course of his first 100
days. He substituted one minister and promised several reforms
relating to financial markets, deciding who should exploit the
massive Tavan Tolgoi mine, and overhauling the higher education
system.

4. (SBU) Despite this agenda that will require strong coordination
within the MPRP, five are reportedly eager to usurp the party
chairmanship. These include Vice Prime Minister M. Enkhbold,
Minister for Internal Affairs Ts. Nyamdorj, ex-president N.
Enkhbayar, Secretary General U. Khurelsukh, and MP U. Enkhtuvshin
who chairs the Parliamentary Standing Committee on State Structure.
M. Enkhbold who was Mayor of Ulaanbaatar between 1999-2005 and then
chaired the MPRP for 3 years, has little support within the party
but retains loyal men in key positions. These include Speaker of
the Parliament D. Demberel, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar G. Munkhbayar,
Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry T. Badamjunai, and
Chairman of the Ulaanbaatar City legislature T.Bilegt. The former
Prime Minister is undoubtedly able to finance a formidable campaign
adequately given his ownership of a construction conglomerate.

5. (SBU) Khurelsukh has been increasingly visible in recent weeks.
He is spearheading fundraising for the construction of a new party
headquarters, as the old one was incinerated during the unrest of
July 1, 2008. This project has brought him new exposure as the
Democratic Party is simultaneously building a new headquarters as
well. Khurelsukh also launched a nationwide tour, promising to
visit party officials across the 21 Aimags (provinces) to meet with
the Party's grass roots membership and discuss internal politics.
Known for his imperious style, his rise, some observers suggest, may
presage something of a regression from the recent foray into
inclusive and translucent politics.

6. (SBU) Former President and Prime Minister Enkhbayar remains
silent about his intentions, but the TV station he owns has gone to
great lengths to criticize the government. The popular channel has
also recently publicized his efforts to supply struggling herders
with fodder and his lecture in Alexandria, Egypt. According to some
reports, Minister of Justice and Home Affairs Nyamdorj is evidently
keen to throw his name in as well. One of the longest serving MPs,
he has a strong regional constituency from the west.

7. (SBU) Finally, MP U. Enkhtuvshin is the most recent addition to
the candidate pool. His chances are fair. He is the former
Secretary General of the Party, and a leader of its
Tradition-Reform-Democracy-Justice wing, aka the Sand 13. In his
capacity as the head of the working group to investigate the matter,
he is one of the few MPs to have accessed classified information
regarding the state suppression of the July 1, 2008 unrest.
Enkhtuvshin is thus one of but a few who know the truth regarding
the roles of former president N. Enkhbayar and former Prime Minister
S. Bayar in the violent incident. There are concerns that he is
being offered the job in exchange for withholding secrets regarding
that fateful day.

HILL

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