Former PM nicknamed ‘Fist’ wins Mongolia presidential election

June 10, 2021 People's Journal 254 views

AFP, June 10, 2021 — Mongolia’s new president Khurelsukh Ukhnaa is a macho character who has been photographed topless on horseback Putin-style, and became known as “Fist” after punching a parliamentarian.

The former prime minister won nearly 70 percent of the vote in the presidential election, preliminary results showed Thursday, with historically low voter turnout for the third election in two years.

The country went to the polls Wednesday to replace populist businessman Battulga Khaltmaa — a former world champion on the martial art of sambo who cannot run for a second presidential term under constitutional rules.

In the early hours of Thursday, Khurelsukh declared a decisive victory after getting nearly 70 percent of votes cast.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank my fellow Mongolians,” he said.

Enkhbat Dangaasuren, his main rival, gathered only around a fifth of the votes and conceded defeat. An official announcement of the results is expected Thursday afternoon, according to Mongolia’s state news agency.

Khurelsukh has cultivated a macho persona, complete with photos of him posing shirtless with a hunting gun — similar to the famous images of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

He also got the nickname “Fist” after a video of him punching a member of parliament went viral in 2012.

Khurelsukh has since tried to clean up his image, and this is the first presidential win in 12 years for his Mongolian People’s Party — but voter turnout was just 59 percent out of around two million eligible voters.

He resigned as prime minister in January following protests and public outrage over the treatment of a coronavirus patient and her newborn baby.