Mongolia president invokes Genghis Khan in election win

Mongolia president invokes Genghis Khan in election win

Mongolia president invokes Genghis Khan in election win

President Tsakhia Elbegdorj invoked Mongolia's warrior hero Genghis Khan today as he celebrated winning a second term in elections defined by a debate over inequality in a nation enjoying a mining bonanza.

Thousands of supporters of the former journalist, who helped throw off decades of communist rule, sang democratic songs in the capital's Soviet-style square as he delivered a victory speech.

"Thank you great Genghis. Today 2.9 million Genghises are waking up on the Mongolian steppes", Elbegdorj said, speaking in front of a statue of the empire-building figure who unified the nation's tribes 800 years ago.

The reference to Genghis Kahn, whose empire reached into Europe at its height, demonstrates the increasing dominance over the nation's political scene established by the Harvard-educated Elbegdorj, who has also served two terms as premier.

The Democratic Party candidate claimed victory after preliminary results today showed he had defeated his two opponents -- a wrestling champion and the country's first woman presidential contender -- with 50.23 percent of the vote.

"I can carry the name of Mongolia high in the international arena. I will work to realise the dream of the Mongolian people," 50-year-old Elbegdorj said. "I will work hard for the more intensive development of Mongolia."

The exploitation of the nation's vast coal, copper and gold reserves has helped transform an economy once characterised by nomadic lifestyles not far removed from the that of Genghis Khan and his followers.

But a widening wealth gap in the cities and environmental damage in rural areas have dominated the political debate, while recent falls in commodity prices and slowing demand in the key market of China sparked uncertainty ahead of the election.

At the victory rally, Elbegdorj praised his opponents in the presidential campaign, including champion wrestler Badmaanyambuu Bat-Erdene, the Mongolian People's Party's candidate who won 41.97 percent of the vote.

The third candidate, Natsag Udval from the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party who was the first woman to contest the presidency, secured just 6.5 percent support.