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This is a Mongolian name; the name "Tsakhia" is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by his or her given name, "Elbegdorj".
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
Цахиагийн Элбэгдорж

Assumed office 
18 June 2009
Prime Minister Sanjaagiin Bayar
Sükhbaataryn Batbold
Preceded by Nambaryn Enkhbayar

In office
23 April 1998 – 9 December 1998
President Natsagiin Bagabandi
Preceded by Mendsaikhany Enkhsaikhan
Succeeded by Janlavyn Narantsatsralt
In office
20 August 2004 – 13 January 2006
President Natsagiin Bagabandi
Nambaryn Enkhbayar
Preceded by Nambaryn Enkhbayar
Succeeded by Miyeegombyn Enkhbold

Born 30 March 1963 (1963-03-30) (age 46)
Zereg, Mongolia
Political party Democratic Party
Alma mater Lviv Higher Military-Political School (actually Land Forces Military Academy)[1]
University of Colorado at Boulder
John F. Kennedy School of Government

Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (Mongolian: Цахиагийн Элбэгдорж, sometimes referred to as Elbegdorj Tsakhia, born March 30, 1963) is a Mongolian politician and the incumbent President of Mongolia, having won the election on May 24, 2009. The candidate of the Democratic Party, he became Mongolia's first president to never have been a member of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and the first to obtain a Western education. Elbegdorj was one of the leaders of the peaceful democratic revolution in 1990 that ended more than 65 years of communist rule.

Elbegdorj has been the Prime Minister of Mongolia twice, the vice speaker of the parliament once, the majority leader of the parliament once, and a member of parliament four times. He is known as a pro-democracy, libertarian politician. [2]

Elbegdorj is also the founder of the Ardchilal (English: Democracy) newspaper.


Childhood and education

Elbegdorj was born into a herding family in Zereg sum, Khovd on March 30, 1963. His father, M. Tsakhia, was a veteran of Mongolia's border conflict with Manchuguo that resulted in the 1939 Battle of Khalkhyn Gol. Elbegdorj finished the sum's eight-year school in 1979. Afterwards, his family moved to Erdenet, and he graduated from Erdenet's No.1 ten-year school in 1981.[3]

In 1981/82, he worked in the Erdenet copper combine as a machinist, and in 1982 was drafted into military service. For heading a Revolutionary Youth League group in the army, he was awarded with the possibility to study Journalism and Marxism-Leninism at the Military Political Institute of the USSR in Lviv (Ukraine) from 1983 on[4]. He graduated in 1988 and then worked for the Mongolian army newspaper Ulaan Od (Red Star).[3]

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. Then Elbegdorj studied with a full scholarship of Harvard University and graduated from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government with a Master of Public Administration (MPA) in 2002.[5][6]

Marriage and family

Elbegdorj and Bolormaa Khajidsuren got acquainted to each other at an ice breaker students’ party in Lviv, Ukraine. They were married when they were students and their first baby was born in Lviv. They have five children: four sons and an adopted daughter.

In addition, Elbegdorj and Bolormaa have helped over 300 orphans through Bolormaa’s Bolor Foundation. The Bolor Foundation opened savings accounts for most of the children. Elbegdorj and Bolormaa are foster parents to around 20 children of the “Baby Bear” class of the foster care state center in Ulaanbaatar. Elbegdorj and his wife Bolormaa visit their foster children as often as they can, taking care of the children for their all needs including medical, piano class and dance class for several years.[7][8]

Democratic movement

Elbegdorj talking at a demonstration, December 1989. Text reads in Mongolian language: "Cherish our history, embrace our freedom, develop our country"

During his studies in the USSR, Elbegdorj learned about Glasnost and concepts such as freedom of speech and economic liberties. After returning to Mongolia, he met with other like-minded people and tried to present those ideas to a wider audience, despite attempts of repression from the Politburo and threats by his employer to lose his job. When giving a speech at Young Artists’ Second National Congress on November 28, 1989, in the end of his speech, Elbegdorj said that Mongolia needed democracy and appealed youth to collaborate and organize an organization together for establishing democracy in Mongolia. He told the audience “We consider that Perestroika is a timely and brave step. Youth’s contribution to this revolutionary matter is not by supportive talks but by certain work. Our contribution is our objectives to be fulfilled. Our objectives are: “…following democracy and transparency and contributing to glasnost, … and to support truthful progressive power…for this…These are the objectives of an initiatives’ group. The group should be an organization that works. After the congress I hope we’ll gather and discuss and you’ll participate in this. The organization shall be based on public, voluntary and democratic principles.”[9]

The chairman of the congress stopped Elbegdorj's speech and warned him that Elbegdorj could not say such things. It was 1989 and Mongolia was already a communist country for one generation - 68 years and it was alleged that one out of two people were unofficial spy of communist party Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) that would oppress people who express different opinions than socialism and communism. During the break of the congress, two young people met Elbegdorj and the three agreed to establish democratic movement and to spread the word secretly to young people. The three with other ten later became known as the thirteen leaders of Mongolia's democratic revolution.

At that time, Elbegdorj was a correspondent of army newspaper Ulaan Od and when he came back to work after the youth congress, the word of the chairman of the Young Artists Congress about Elbegdorj's "wrongdoing" at the congress already reached the newspaper. The director of the newspaper warned Elbegdorj that he would fire Elbegdorj if he would participate in any activities out of work and to do anything out of communist and socialist ideological lines. Despite the warning, Elbegdorj and his friends began to secretly meet with other young people in the circle auditorium of the National University of Mongolia and discussed about democracy, free market economy and what they knew about the prohibited subjects of that time and began to draft a plan to organize democratic movement. They met many times and brought new friends and new supporters to join them secretly. One night they put ads of their open demonstration in streets.

On the morning of December 10, 1989, the first open pro-democracy demonstration met in front of the Youth Cultural Center in Ulaanbaatar. There Elbegdorj announced the creation of the Mongolian Democratic Union. Over the next months the activists led by Elbegdorj and others continued to organize demonstrations, rallies, protests and hunger strikes, as well as teacher's and worker's strikes. These were risky acts for the lives of the activists at that time. They met growing support from the population, both in the capital and the countryside and the union’s activities became a wave all over the country.[10]; [11]

After many demonstrations of dozens of thousands of people in the capital city as well as provincial centers, eventually MPRP Politburo - the authority of the government gave way to the pressure and entered into negotiations with the leaders of the democratic movement. In February 1990, the chairman of Politburo Jambyn Batmönkh of MPRP’s Central Committee decided to dissolve the Politburo and to resign on March 9, 1990, paving the way for the first multi-party elections in Mongolia. Elbegdorj announced this news to hunger strikers and people gathered on Sukhbaatar square at 10PM on that day after the negotiation between leaders of MPRP and Mongolian Democratic Union. As a result Mongolia became the first democratic country in Central Asia.[12].

As a Member of People’s Congress, Elbegdorj co-drafted and co-adopted on January 13, 1992 Mongolia’s new constitution that guaranteed human rights and democracy. Mongolia became the first democratic country in Central Asia guaranteed by the constitution. An international intellectual refers to Elbegdorj as "Mongolia's Thomas Jefferson.[13].

Business and media activities

Elbegdorj worked as a correspondent at army newspaper Ulaan Od and a chief of army literature unit between 1988 and 1990. During these positions Elbegdorj wrote articles disclosing and criticizing publicly the brutal characteristics of “year difference” among privates in Mongolian army and wrote articles to fight for soldiers’ health and lives.[citation needed]

Elbegdorj founded Mongolia’s first independent newspaper “Ardchilal” (Democracy) and worked as its Editor-in-Chief in 1990. During his work as the editor-in-chief Elbegdorj spread information on core values of democracy to Mongolian people and advertised that every Mongolian should have all rights and freedom defined the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which resulted in changes to social thinking of Mongolia[citation needed].

Elbegdorj founded and worked as the head of Mongolia's first Entrepreneurs Association, which helped[citation needed] to privatize livestock free to their herders from the socialist collectives in 1991.

Elbegdorj helped to create Mongolia’s first 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 Christian missionary organization AMONG Foundation, and the Mongolia Media Corporation (MMC).

Political career

Elbegdorj was elected to the Parliament four times, in 1990, 1992, 1996 and in 2008. He was involved in the drafting and adoption of Mongolia’s new Constitution, which introduced human rights, democracy and a free market economy to the country. He supported the privatization of lifestock, of state-owned assets, and (unsuccessfully) of land.

While Chairman of the State Commission on Rehabilitation, Elbegdorj initiated and realized the state apology for the victims and families of around 36,000 people.[14] those had been persecuted or mass massacred during the years of MPRP rule. He played a key role in the approval of the Rehabilitation Law, which provided rehabilitation, compensation to the survivors and families of political victims, and recovery from the Stalinist purges and prohibited future violation of human rights. In addition the law established a Memorial Day for Political Victims.

Elbegdorj, as the head of the Democratic party, co-led the Democratic Union Coalition to its historic victory in the 1996 parliamentary elections. He served as the Majority Leader of the Parliament from 1996 to 2000 and as the Vice Speaker of the Parliament from 1996 to 1998.

He worked as the Prime Minister of Mongolia twice in 1998 and 2004-2006.


First term as prime minister

In 1998, a clause in the constitution was removed that prohibited members of parliament to take cabinet responsibility. Thus on April 23, 1998, Parliament elected (61-6) Elbegdorj as the Prime Minister.[15] During his term, he made crucial steps in solving the nation’s pressing economic, political, structural and social issues, and firmly continued its open foreign policy. Those are as following: Elbegdorj co-initiated Law on Press Freedom and he played a key role to pass the law in 1998. Based on this law, another law passed that changed all daily state newspapers into public newspapers without direct control and censorship from the government.

Elbegdorj's most significant achievement during his first term as Prime Minister was to collect tax and create tax income. The biggest tax payer and only significant income contributor to the government's budget at the time was the copper ore mining and processing Erdenet Mining Corporation (EMC) - a joint stock company owned by the governments of Mongolia and the Russian Federation. EMC hadn't paid due tax, income and royalty to Mongolia's government between 1997-1998 which resulted in the government financial crumbling.

Because of this, the previous Prime Minister Enkhsaikhan stepped down due to pressure from the opposition party, the MPRP. After becoming Prime Minister, Elbegdorj ordered an audit of EMC. The audit result revealed that the state due income did not enter the state account, instead it went to dubious accounts of directors at the EMC. This corruption related case was reported in detail in investigative series “Swindle of the Century” on Eagle television.[16] Elbegdorj dismissed the EMC's chairman. As a result, the government began to receive due tax, royalty and income from the EMC.

In addition, at the recommendations of international financial institutions such as International Monetary Fund and the World Bank - aid granters to Mongolia, and discount interest rate loan giver Asian Development Bank, Elbegdorj made a decision to sell state owned Reconstruction Bank which became illiquid and experiencing enormous loss, the biggest financial burden to the economy since its establishment in 1997.[17] At that time Golomt Bank was the sole private commercial bank in Mongolia and it was the only one that offered to buy Reconstruction Bank.

In response to this and the change of EMC's chairman, the minority group at the Parliament MPRP demanded Elbegdorj to resign and resulted Elbegdorj to lose confidence vote at the Parliament. The Parliament had prevented Elbegdorj's government from selling the bank. Elbegdorj's decision to sell the Reconstruction Bank was proven to be correct. Because the bank bankrupted not long after Elbegdorj's first term as prime minister was over and the bankruptcy led the government to suffer enormous amount of financial loss.

Moreover, Elbegdorj assisted Mongolia's first Wrestling Palace which was half built for a long time to be completely built during his first term as a Prime Minister.

He stayed in office until December 9, because of the disagreements of the Parliament and the President for a new Prime Minister, as the President vetoing proposals from the Democratic Party’s majority. Finally, in December the President agreed to the parliament's proposal on Janlavyn Narantsatsralt, former Mayor of Ulaanbaatar as Prime Minister, and Elbegdorj stepped down.

Second term as prime minister

On August 20, 2004, Elbegdorj became a Prime Minister of Mongolia for the second time, despite not being a member of parliament. This time he headed a grand coalition government after the vote in the parliamentary elections had been evenly split between the two major political forces - Democratic Coalition and the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party.

In his second term of the government, Elbegdorj proclaimed a fight against corruption and poverty, which he saw as the biggest challenges to Mongolia's economic development.

Besides Elbegdorj initiated a "Green Wall" environmental project to plant trees in barren areas and desert zones to prevent from dust storm coming from Mongolia to Asia and to reduce air pollution[citation needed].

During his term January 27, 2005, the state controlled National State Television and Radio were converted into formally independent organisations with increasingly smaller control by the government[18]. Also, legal provisions that prohibited demonstrations on Ulaanbaatar's Sükhbaatar Square were abolished[19]. He[citation needed] subsidized and supported technical schools and specialized professions to reduce unemployment. To promote affordable computers and internet access, he[citation needed] established Information and Communication Agency under the government. He[citation needed] attempted to strengthen domestic businesses by reducing the administrative overhead, by eliminating excessive regulations, many licensing requirements, and import taxes for key product categories. [20] By decision of his government English replaced Russian as the first foreign language to be taught in public schools[citation needed].

Elbegdorj initiated the erection of the Genghis Khan memorial complex in front of Mongolia's government house. He also proposed to relocate Mongolia's capital to Harhorin, a small town 400 km west of Ulaanbaatar, at the site of the former (until the 1260s) capital of the Mongol Empire.

In August 2005, Elbegdorj wanted to run for by-elections in Ulaanbaatar's Bayangol düüreg. However, the MPRP threatened to leave the coalition if Elbegdorj ran against MPRP candidate M. Ekhbold, and Elbegdorj withdrew.[21]

On January 13, 2006, the MPRP left the coalition anyway, and Elbegdorj was forced to resign. The MPRP proceeded to form a new government with the help of DP defectors and independent MPs, the new prime minister became M. Enkhbold. The events triggered protests from some civic groups and their followers.[22]

International relations

During Elbegdorj's term as prime minister, George W. Bush became the first incumbent US president ever to visit Mongolia[23]. His visit was in recognition of Mongolia's contribution to the US-led operations in Iraq.

Also during Elbegdorj's term, Mongolia was accepted into the European Union's GSP+ system[24], which allows Mongolian exporters to pay lower customs tariffs when exporting to the EU.

2008 political unrest

After his party's defeat in the June 29th, 2008 parliamentary elections, Elbegdorj in his position of DP chairman was one of the most vocal protesters against alleged irregularities. International observers, however, noted that they deemed the election mostly free and fair.[25] The MPRP and several media outlets[citation needed] accused him of inciting the riots of July 1st, 2008, in which the MPRP headquarters was burnt down and the Central Cultural Palace damaged and looted. The riot crackdown left 5 people dead and many injured.[26][27]

On September 2, 2008, Elbegdorj resigned as the head of the Democratic Party in the aftermath of the party's defeat in the 2008 elections. N. Altankhuyag was elected by the Democratic Party's National Consultative Committee as the next chairman, and the Democratic Party entered a coalition government with the MPRP. On September 12th, Elbegdorj was the only member of parliament who voted against S. Bayar as Mongolia's new prime minister. [28]

2009 Mongolian presidential election

Elbegdorj walking down from Genghis Khan monument to greet Mongolians after victory in the Presidential elections, 25 May 2009.
Election preliminary results. Source: Montsame Agency

At the Democratic Party convention of April 3, 2009, Elbegdorj was elected as the presidential candidate from the Democratic party. He received 63.5% of the vote, defeating Erdeniin Bat-Üül. After Elbegdorj was announced as the candidate, the Civic Will Party and the Mongolian Green Party pledged their support.[citation needed] Elbegdorj won the elections by 51.21 % of votes while incumbent president Enkhbayar got 47.41 % mostly from the countryside.[citation needed]

On 5 June 2009, the parliament decided to swear Elbegdorj in on 18 June 2009.[29]


As soon as he took the office, he initiated an Amnesty Law, mainly in order to free the 300 prisoners sentenced after the July 1, 2008, uprising. The MPRP-dominated parliament distorted the bill to include corrupt politicians in the amnesty.[30]

In September 2009, Elbegdorj visited the Independent Authority Against Corruption and expressed his dissatisfaction with the work of this important agency as it investigates petty corruption instead of political corruption. He disbanded the Community council of the IAAC formed by the former President N. Enkhbayar mostly with sport and music stars and supreme clergy[31]. Then he reorganized the council strengthening it with professional lawyers.[32]

By the end of 2009, the President vetoed the national budget which allocated a billion tugrik for each MP (76,000,000,000 total) to invest in their respective constituencies. Such allocation of funds was seen as a form of political corruption and distortion of the democratic principle of checks and balances that constitutionally divides power between the legislative and executive branches. (Some observers compared it to "pork" in the United States government budgeting.) It also provides unfair advantage to the current MPs in future election campaigns, say opponents. The parliament over-rode the veto, which supporters of the veto said proved the parliament was "deeply corrupt." [33]

On January 14, 2010, Elbegdorj announced that he would, henceforth, systematically use his prerogative to pardon all persons sentenced to death. He stated that most countries in the world had abolished the death penalty, and that Mongolia should follow their example; he suggested that it be replaced with a thirty year prison sentence. The decision was controversial; when Elbegdorj announced it in Parliament, MPRP represesentatives [34] chose not to give the applause customarily due after a presidential speech.[35] (See: Capital punishment in Mongolia)

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.

Elbegdorj is a frequent lecturer, both domestically and abroad[citation needed]. For example, he was one of the speakers of the August, 2007, conference called "Re-founding America" in Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S.A., sponsored by the International Society for Individual Liberty.

Political affiliation

  • Member of the National Counseling Committee of Democratic Party from 1994 onwards.
  • Leader and chairman of the Democratic Party between April 2006- Sept, 2008 and 1996-1999.
  • Chairman of the Democratic Union Coalition of the Mongolian National Democratic Party and Mongolian Social Democratic Party in 1996-2000.
  • Leader of the Mongolian Democratic Union in 1989-1997.


  • 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. ^ Oliver Corff, Who is Who der Mongolischen Politik: Älbägdorj, Caxiagiïn (in German)
  2. ^ Miller, Vincent H. (Spring 2004). "From Communism to Capitalism in the Land of Genghis Khan". International Society for Individual Liberty. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj’s brief biography". Democratic Party of Mongolia. April 10, 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  4. ^ New York Times: The Saturday Profile, December 25th, 2004
  5. ^ "World leaders educated at Harvard". The President and Fellows of Harvard College. November 5, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  6. ^ Hough, Lory (January 5, 2005). "Kennedy School Graduate Guides Mongolia into New Era". for The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved May 17, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Kh.Bolormaa: One politician only for a family interview". Ардчилал (Democracy) newspaper. May 2009. 
  8. ^ J.Tsesen (May 2009). "Large Family". Ардчилал (Democracy) newspaper. 
  9. ^ Tsakhia, Elbegdorj (1999). The Footstep of Truth is White book “Speech of Ulaan Od newspaper’s correspondent Elbegdorj at Young Artists’ Second National Congress”. Hiimori. pp. 15. ISBN 99929-74-01-X. 
  10. ^ "Years of 1989-1990 (in Mongolian language)". Democratic Party of Mongolia. March 24, 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  11. ^ Baabar (December 11, 2007). "Democratic Revolution and Its Terrible Explanations". Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Mongolia's Former Communist Party MPRP Pulled the Rug Under Elbegdorj's Government". Press Release Newswire. January 13, 2006. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  13. ^ Miller, Vincent H. (Spring 2004). "From Communism to Capitalism in the Land of Genghis Khan". International Society for Individual Liberty. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Around Fourteen Thousand Monks Were Persecuted". Ch.Bolor for September 9, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  15. ^ "April 1998". April, 1998. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Mongolian Christian TV Station Shuts Down". Michael Kohn for The Associated Press. June 10, 2003. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Baabar says this: Enkhbayar Era". Baabar. December 26, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Law on Public Radio and Televisions". Parliament of Mongolia. January 27, 2005. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Law on Rules of Demonstration and Public Gatherings. Its Article 7.2 that prohibited public demo on Sukhbaatar was voided on November 17, 2005". Parliament of Mongolia. July 7, 1994. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Elections and Position of Parties". Өнөөдрийн тойм (Today’s Briefing) newspaper. January 18, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  21. ^ Aktuelle Nachrichten aus der Mongolei/ 1. bis 7. August 2005 (in German)
  22. ^ "In Mongolia protest groups collide". Mongolia Web. April 12, 2006. Retrieved April 21 2006. 
  23. ^ "'Bush thanks Mongolia for support in Iraq". CNN. November 22, 2005. Retrieved February 19, 2007. 
  24. ^ "Comission Decision of 21 December 2005". Official Journal of the European Union. 21 December 2005. Retrieved May 28, 2009. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Violent protest after Mongolia poll". Al Jazeera. July 3, 2008. Retrieved July 6 2008. 
  27. ^ "Frustrations boil over in Mongolia". BBC. July 3, 2008. Retrieved March 16 2008. 
  28. ^ Aktuelle Nachrichten aus der Mongolei/ 25. bis 31. August 2008, Aktuelle Nachrichten aus der Mongolei/ 8. bis 14. September 2008 (in German)
  29. ^
  30. ^ Speaker says it is old woman's blab that the parliament is bribed and influenced by the Chinese
  31. ^ [ The IAAC and the President
  32. ^ The new community council established by the President visit the IAAC
  33. ^ Veto by the President: right or wrong
  34. ^ Tomorrow Mongolia will abolish capital punishment
  35. ^ “Le président mongol veut abolir la peine de mort”, Le Monde, January 14, 2009


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

External links

Reports, interviews, and speeches

Government change in 2006


Political offices
Preceded by
Mendsaikhany Enkhsaikhan
Prime Minister of Mongolia
Succeeded by
Janlavyn Narantsatsralt
Preceded by
Nambaryn Enkhbayar
Prime Minister of Mongolia
2004 – 2006
Succeeded by
Miyeegombyn Enkhbold
President of Mongolia
2009 – present


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