Mongolia ex-president nixed from upcoming election

Election officials have barred a former Mongolian president from running for parliament over corruption charges, a move that could deny the still influential politician a role in the upcoming elections.

Mongolia's General Election Commission voted Thursday to reject the candidacy of Enkhbayar Nambar due to questions about his integrity. It also deemed his 25-year-old son Batshugar Enkhbayar as ineligible to run because he has yet to serve the two years in the military that is compulsory for all Mongolian men.

Enkhbayar's Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party vowed to appeal the ruling to the constitutional court on the grounds that it was premature since the politician has yet to be convicted on charges of graft and abuse of power.

Whether it stands or not, the ruling is seen by some as a political vendetta against Enkhbayar and by others as a routine part of the robust, sometimes rough democratic politics of Mongolia, a largely poor country with rich mining deposits stuck between Russia and China.

Enkhbayar served as a prime minister and president for much of a decade until he lost re-election in 2009. Under new election rules, some seats in the 76-seat parliament will be awarded to parties based on the proportion of votes while others will be contested on a straight majority. Enkhbayar's recently formed party was expected to capture enough seats in the late June elections to play a role in deciding the next government.

In April, however, Enkhbayar's comeback took a startling turn when he first fled arrest only to be captured in a dawn raid by police on a compound where he was staying. The anti-corruption agency has accused him of misusing donations meant for a Buddhist temple, using the state airline for personal matters and benefiting from the improper privatization of state-owned properties.

While Enkhbayar's arrest initially attracted popular sympathy, a video that showed him refusing to submit to questioning by corruption investigators turned off many people when it was made public.