Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj "The Pioneer of Mongolian Democracy"

Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (mong. 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.

On July 10, 2007, Elbegdorj was critically injured in an automobile accident on the way from Ulan Bator to Kharkhorin,
and in an intensive care in Mongolia's Trauma Hospital in Ulan Bator.
He sufferred critical head injuries, but his intelligence and memory
are reported to be intact.
Popular suspicions that the accident might have been a murder attempt
in the critical time before the 2008 elections have not been


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

Elbegdorj talking at a demonstration, December 1989

Elbegdorj talking at a demonstration, December 1989

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

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 governement responsibility. On April 23, 1998,
Elbegdorj became Mongolias youngest Prime Minister in recent history.
During his term, he worked on the nations pressing political, economic,
structural and social issues, and continued its open foreign policy.

The parliament, who was dominated by his own party at the time, removed him from power again on December 9, 1998, and replaced him by Janlavyn Narantsatsralt.

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 very promising candidacy for by-elections in one of Ulan Bator's constituencies amid MPRP threats to withdraw from the coalition, paving the way for Ulan Bators mayor Miyeegombyn Enkhbold to become a member of parliament.

In his second term of the government, Elbegdorj proclaimed war
against corruption and poverty, the biggest obstacles to Mongolia's
development. Despite the coalition agreement, the MPRP withdrew their
ministers from the governement 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.

Goals and results

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

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
governement, 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.

US President George W. Bush visited Mongolia on November 21, 2005,
and made a speech in which he praised Mongolia's democracy and the ones
who brought the democracy, particularly Elbegdorj.

Elbegdorj agreed to send a contingent of Mongolian forces to Iraq in support of the international peace keeping efforts in 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.[8]

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, an 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 has been elected as a 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.[9]
  • 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 since Apr 2006.


  • Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj Footstep of the Truth Is White, Ulaanbaatar 2000
  • Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj The Years of Bearing Weight, Ulaanbaatar 2000
  • Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj 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.


  1. ^ Ex-Mongolia PM critical after car crash. Reuters (July 13, 2007). Retrieved on July 13, 2007.
  2. ^ Eagle TV Mongolia broadcasts reactions on Elbegdorj accident - UPDATE. Mongolia Web (July 13, 2007). Retrieved on July 13, 2007.
  3. ^ In Mongolia protest groups collide. Mongolia Web (April 12, 2006). Retrieved on April 21, 2006.
  4. ^ Officials targeted for corruption. Mongolia-Web (2005-11-02). Retrieved on February 18, 2007.
  5. ^ Asian Human Rights Commission - Urgent Appeals Program (September 19, 2003). Retrieved on February 19, 2007.
  6. ^ President Bush: Speech in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, White House Press Release, November 21, 2005
  7. ^ Bush thanks Mongolia for support in Iraq], CNN, Novemner22, 2005
  8. ^ Statement Of Senator Mitch McConnell On Resolution Honoring Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (June 16 2005). Retrieved on February 19, 2007.
  9. ^ Luke Distelhorst: Ts. Elbegdorj Mongolia's New Democratic Party Leader, Mongolia Web, April 1, 2006


(About Democratic Coalition won 36 out of 76 seats in parliament and
the power sharing agreement, Elbegdorj becomes Prime Minister)

  • Matthew Davis Voting Mongolia, World View Magazine Online, Volume 17, Number 4, Fall 2004 (Story on Elbegdorj's party campaigning and Mongolians' voting in 2004)

External links

About Elbegdorj, interviews, and speech

News and articles about the governement change in 2006


This page was last modified 14:05, 17 July 2007.All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsakhiagiin_Elbegdorj

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