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Mongolian ruling party set to retain power with virus success

As economy slips, prime minister pushes Wednesday poll despite calls for caution

Supporters of the Mongolian People's Party rally in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, ahead of the country's parliamentary elections. (Photo by Anand Tumurtogoo)

ULAANBAATAR -- Mongolia will hold its general parliamentary elections on Wednesday after political parties wrangled over whether to postpone the quadrennial event, indicating the ruling party's desire to consolidate its grip on power before the coronavirus pandemic sinks the economy.

Thanks to early border closures starting in January, the Asian nation -- sandwiched between China and Russia -- has reported no internal transmissions of COVID-19 and has just 215 cases so far, all imported. The ruling Mongolian People's Party, led by Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh, holds 65 seats of the 76-seat parliament and hopes to make the most of the relatively successful virus response to solidify support at the polls. In short, it wants the elections finished before any economic turmoil, which could come as early as the end of the year.

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