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There was no outright winner in Mongolia's presidential election on Monday, forcing the country's first ever second-round run-off between the two leading candidates, the country's General Election Committee said of Tuesday.
The populist former martial arts star Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party won the most votes, but failed to secure the majority required, the committee said.
After the final districts were counted overnight, Battulga emerged with 517,478 votes, 38.1 percent of the total, according to Mongolian state television.
Ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) candidate Miyeegombo Enkhbold, regarded as pro-investment and market-friendly, scraped through to the second round with 411,748 votes, 30.3 percent of the total.
The election was seen as referendum on the government's economic recovery plans and China's role in the country.
Battulga is regarded as a resource nationalist who is suspicious of neighbouring China, while Enkhbold, an establishment politician and parliamentary speaker, appears to have suffered as a result of his party's austerity policies.
The new MPP administration raised interest rates and slashed public spending last year to try to cope with heavy debts and a precipitous fall in the value of Mongolia's currency, the tugrik.
Enkhbold, the pre-election favourite, was trailing in third place for much of the count after a stronger than expected performance by Sainkhuu Ganbaatar of the breakaway Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP).
Ganbaatar finished with 30.2 percent, trailing Enkhbold by fewer than 2,000 votes, but is expected to be eliminated from the second round.
All three presidential candidates promised to pull the country out of its current crisis, but their campaigns were clouded by corruption allegations.
Mongolia, a remote, resource-rich land known as the birthplace of Mongol emperor Genghis Khan, is a parliamentary democracy. The government is run by the prime minister, but the president has powers to veto legislation and make judicial appointments.
(Reporting by Terrence Edwards, Writing by David Stanway; Editing by Gareth Jones and Michael Perry)
The operator of the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima has applied for permission to freeze the remaining part of an ice wall that is being built to keep groundwater from entering the reactor buildings.
Tokyo Electric Power Company submitted the application to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Monday, in order to gain permission to freeze the 7 meter-wide section on the mountain side.
Workers started circulating coolant in buried pipes to form the 1.5 kilometer-long wall in March of last year. They hope to keep groundwater from entering the crippled buildings and being contaminated with radioactive substances.
The utility company has been taking a cautious approach, expanding the frozen area little by little to gradually reduce the groundwater inflow.
That's because of the regulator's concern that freezing the entire area could lead to a sharp drop in the groundwater level outside the reactor buildings, which could cause the tainted water to leak out.
But company officials now say they are sure that water will not leak out. And they say the barrier is already working to decrease the flow of water. The daily amount of groundwater flowing into the buildings is now 100 tons. When the project started, it was 400 tons.
The officials say that the completion of the ice wall will further reduce the amount.
Internet powerhouse Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has appointed a seasoned scientist at Amazon.com Inc to spearhead its efforts in artificial intelligence, a move that will propel its so-called "NASA plan" to double up on technology research.
Alibaba in March announced a major project at its first technical meeting in Hangzhou, to galvanize the group's technological capabilities, code-named NASA.
Since June, Ren Xiaofeng, former senior principal scientist at Amazon and a Chinese citizen, has taken on the role as chief scientist and deputy dean at Alibaba's Institute of Data Science and Technologies, its global research and development center, the company confirmed on Monday.
Ren is recruiting a world-class computer vision team at a fast-expanding site in Bellevue, in the United States.
That's according to Ren's updated resume on the website of the University of Washington, where he also serves as an affiliate assistant professor of computer science and engineering.
In his four years at Amazon, Ren was the lead scientist at Amazon Go, using computer vision and machine learning, to transform retailing. The research led to the launch of an automatic check-out system that eliminates unnecessary and annoying customer waiting.
Prior to Amazon, Ren also had deep experience in vision-related projects at Intel Lab, working on computer vision and its applications in activity recognition and monitoring, robotics, and human-computer interaction. Ren holds a PhD in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Alibaba said that Ren's coming onboard indicated an accelerated pace to carry out the NASA project, proposed by founder Jack Ma in March, to boost the firm's technological capacity in 20 years.
Ma said at the time that to meet the group's strategic goal of serving 2 billion customers, creating 100 million jobs and enabling 10 million businesses to become profitable, Alibaba should invest in technological infrastructure featuring machine learning, chips, the internet of things and biometric identification, among others.
As a new entrant to the international cloud market, Alibaba is off to a good start, being included for the first time in a Gartner Inc report this month as being "well-positioned to take on bigger players such as Amazon and Microsoft Corp".
Since the start of the year China's tech majors have been plowing in billions of dollars into consolidating a technical arsenal and talent pool to outgun their rivals.
Search engine Baidu Inc hired former Microsoft executive Lu Qi as group president and rolled out its Apollo Project to help drive the development of autonomous cars.
Tencent Holdings Ltd is also betting on cloud technologies and AI, doubling its offshore data centers this year and identifying AI as being synonymous with its services.
Shanghai-based Gartner Research Director Sandy Shen said that Chinese tech firms were becoming a hot draw for talent globally, given the market fluidity, fast pace and the receptive attitude toward new technologies among Chinese consumers....
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The General Election Commission will announce the preliminary results of the presidential election today, June 27.
As of 8.40 AM, DP candidate Kh.Battulga leads the ballot with 517,330 votes (38.1%), and MPP candidate M.Enkhbold in the second position with 411,519 votes (30.3%), followed by MPRP candidate S.Ganbaatar with 409,777 votes (30.19%).
Candidate Kh.Battulga also won majority of votes in the overseas polling. In specific, 2,979 Mongolian nationals living abroad voted for Kh.Battulga, 995 for M.Enkhbold and 740 for S.Ganbaatar.
Since neither of the candidates garnered majority of votes, the situation calls for a second ballot.
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia – Mongolia's presidential election appeared headed for a runoff with the latest vote count early Tuesday showing a business tycoon leading the ruling party's candidate and a nationalist wanting the country to benefit more from its mineral wealth.
Khaltmaa Battulga of the Democratic Party had a clear lead but less than the required 50 percent of the 1.3 million votes cast Monday to avoid a runoff, the General Election Commission said.
The Mongolian People's Party's Miyegombo Enkhbold, speaker of the parliament and a horse dealer, had looked to be shut out of the runoff in the early results but pulled into second place as votes from more remote areas of the landlocked Asian country were counted.
Enkhbold was around 1,700 votes ahead of nationalist Sainkhuu Ganbaatar of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, a vocal critic of mining giant Rio Tinto's operations in the country, according to the latest data from the election commission.
Ganbaatar's party protested the overnight turn in preliminary results that put their candidate, who had earlier been leading Enkhbold by 15,000 votes, in third place, accusing the election commission of fraud. The commission could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
While the nation of 3 million had been an oasis of democratic stability since the end of communist rule nearly three decades ago, its politics have grown increasingly fractious amid an economic crisis and accusations of corruption among the ruling class.
The candidates were seeking to succeed Tsakhia Elbegdorj of the Democratic Party, who has served the maximum of two four-year terms. The winner will become Mongolia's fifth president since 1990.
Enkhbold, whose party won parliamentary elections last year by a landslide, had been widely seen as representing stability at a time when Mongolia is showing tentative signs of recovery from an economic crisis brought about by a dramatic drop in global commodity prices.
Battulga campaigned on a "Mongolia First" policy, borrowing the language of President Donald Trump. He promised to be "a patriotic president" seeking "equal cooperation" with neighbors like China, which he has criticized in the past.
Battulga's company, Genco, is one of Mongolia's largest, with businesses including hotels, media, banking, alcohol, horsemeat and a Genghis Khan-themed complex. He was agriculture minister between 2012 and 2014 and is a former member of parliament, as well as president of the Mongolian Judo Association.
Ganbaatar, a self-described feng shui master and "Robin Hood" for the masses, has claimed Mongolia should get a better deal with Rio Tinto and its copper and gold mine, Oyu Tolgoi.
Around two-thirds of nearly 2 million registered voters cast ballots, the election commission said.
Sandwiched between Russia and China, resource-rich Mongolia has been roiled by financial upheaval and the increasing draw of China's economic and political influence that competes with its ties with the democratic West, especially the United States.
Foreign investment in Mongolia has slumped in recent years following weaker commodity prices and high-profile disputes between the government and large investors including Rio Tinto. Mongolia's economy grew just 1 percent last year, down from 17.5 percent in 2011, when it was the world's fastest-growing. It now has $23 billion in debt, more than double the size of its economy. Unemployment is roughly 9 percent, with about one in five Mongolians living in poverty.
The country recently secured a $5.5 billion International Monetary Fund-led bailout to stem its financial crisis, with a $500 million bond repayment due in January 2018. Enkhbold's party pledges to continue the IMF's program, including higher taxes and spending cuts, while Ganbaatar has criticized the IMF.
For 30-year old district government office worker and mother Tserendejid Bayanbaatar, restoring the economy and creating jobs for young people were top concerns in the election.
"I want the future president to support young people and young families, support their work environment and create conditions for stable incomes," Bayanbaatar said.
Avirmed Dangaa, an accountant and former municipal official, said creating stability was important.
"Trust of foreign investors is restored if the government is stable," said Dangaa, who favored Enkhbold.
Battulga has a large following among urban entrepreneurs and youth.
"I don't like corruption and favoritism, which is prevalent everywhere in all levels of Mongolian government. I voted against these corrupt officials," said Enkhmaa, a 28-year-old entrepreneur who gave only her first name....
Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) has dismissed Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) sweetened bid for the coal assets on the block in Australia's Hunter Valley and said it is sticking with an offer from Yancoal Australia (ASX:YAL), a subsidiary of China’s Yanzhou Coal Mining.
On Friday, the Swiss miner and commodities submitted a second and improved all-cash offer of $2.68 billion only a few days after its previous bid was rebuffed.
Yancoal has been Rio Tinto’s preferred bidder since its offer was first announced in January.
Glencore was not only promising to pay all of the cash upfront instead of a portion in annual instalments, but has said it would hand Rio $225 million if the deal were to be blocked by regulators in China, Korea, Taiwan or Australia.
As an added bonus, it offered to let Rio keep the cash flows from the business until the deal completes.
But Rio Tinto confirmed Monday that it would opt for Yancoal, which has come back with a revised bid of $2.69bn, which includes at least $2.45bn in cash on completion.
Yancoal, which has been Rio’s preferred bidder since its offer was first announced in January, has also agreed to raise its break fee from $100m to $225m, which will be payable should the deal fail.
Rio also noted Yancoal’s bid includes financial assistance of $2.1bn from China-owned parent Yankuang Group.
The company’s shareholders will vote on the proposals at general meetings in London on Tuesday and Sydney on Thursday.
Mongolia is awaiting the results of a contentious presidential election in which mudslinging and corruption claims overshadowed debate about the nation’s troubled economy.
The race pits Parliament Speaker Enkhbold Miyegombo, 52, the head of Mongolia’s ruling party, against populist-tinged challenger Battulga Khaltmaa, 54, who promised greater controls on the nation’s vast mineral resources. A third candidate, former lawmaker Ganbaatar Sainkhuu, 46, pledged to “take back the natural resources for each citizen.’’
Polls in the nation of 3.1 million people were scheduled to close at 10 p.m. Monday, with results expected by midnight. If no candidate secures more than half the vote, the top two contenders will head to a run-off.
Enkhbold’s Mongolian People’s Party has been trying to open more mines and recover from a commodity downturn that battered government finances and the economy. The presidency -- now held by Battulga’s Democratic Party -- could provide a platform to contest policies that underpin a $5.5 billion International Monetary Fund-led bailout package announced in February, which is expected to stay in place no matter who wins.
While Mongolia’s Parliament controls the government, the president serves as commander-in-chief of the military. The president can veto legislation and is also responsible for nominating candidates for prime minister and appointing the intelligence and anti-corruption chiefs. The incumbent, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, is barred from seeking a third term.
Enkhbold, a career politician who dabbles in horse breeding, has promised stability, arguing that government policies stand a better chance under an MPP presidency. Battulga, a businessman and former agriculture-and-industry minister, said he would provide a check on the ruling party’s power.
While Enkhbold entered the race as the favorite after a landslide victory in last year’s legislative elections, no reliable polling was available ahead of the vote. None of the candidates have been spared from scandal during a three-week campaign marked by corruption allegations.
“I am hoping for a run-off,’’ said Munkhbayasgalan Delgerbat, a marketing-management student at the University of Finance and Economics, who cast a blank ballot. “The candidates were not competing against one another about what they will do for the country. They were just raising black PR.”
Dale Choi, founder of Altan Bumba Financial Group, said Battulga’s outsider credentials could overcome Enkhbold’s advantages of funding and political organization if the MPP failed to secure a victory in the first round.
“Generally anti-establishment young voters who don’t care to vote will be forced to vote,” Choi said. “Typically, young voters are not happy -- frustrated with the system, which does not give many opportunities for them -- and more likely to protest-vote for Battulga, which symbolizes balance and control over establishment.’’
S&P Global Ratings projects that Mongolia’s economy, which grew by an average of more than 10 percent annually before last year’s slowdown, will contract by 0.2 percent this year before stabilizing. The government is counting on mining projects, including the $5.4 billion Oyu Tolgoi site operated by Rio Tinto Group, to bring in new revenue....
The governor of the Czech Republic’s central bank Jiri Rusnok said the country is generally ready to adopt the common European currency, but it would be better to wait until local wages and prices approached those of core euro members.
According to Rusnok, one of the reasons the country is committed to joining the euro is that the Czech crown is now floating and not pegged. The Czech central bank scrapped its cap on the crown in April, allowing it to float freely to stronger levels against the euro for the first time since 2013.
Last week Rusnok said he thought Czechs would not be adopting the euro for five to ten years. He added that while wage rises in some of the leading European economies are almost zero, the average salary increase in the Czech Republic is currently around five percent so that the trend was positive.
Czech President Milos Zeman said on Friday the country has been ready to join the eurozone for almost ten years but that the public was irrationally afraid to do that.
“We have been fulfilling the Maastricht criteria, but there is a mental barrier to its adoption. A mere 30 percent of Czechs are in favor of entering the eurozone," he said.
Statistics showed the nominal rate of wage rises in the Czech Republic was 5.3 percent in the first quarter of the year. Currently, average Czech wages are around €10 an hour. Across the EU the figure is around €25 while in some eurozone countries it’s around €30.
According to an unnamed economist cited by Radio Praha, even if there were a real five percentage point difference in the wage rises, it would take 15 years at that rate for average Czech wages to catch up with those of neighboring Germany.
"For us to remain at the core of the European Union, sooner or later we will have to respond to the question of not whether, but when the Czech Republic is capable of adopting the single European currency, ʺ said Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.
The Czech officials’ announcements follow recent media reports the European Commission wants all 27 members of the bloc to adopt the euro by 2025.
Officials from the EU are reportedly seeking to draw up a euro budget able to incorporate a fixed tax payment from all the member states. The raised cash would be invested across the bloc.
ULAANBAATAR: Polling stations opened throughout Mongolia's cities, townships and prairies on Monday as nearly two million residents were asked to choose a new president amid worries about corruption and the state of the resource-dominated economy.
Most voters expect a two-horse race between the ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) candidate Miyeegombo Enkhbold, an investment-friendly career politician, and former martial arts star and resource nationalist Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party.
But Sainkhuu Ganbaatar of the breakaway Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) could win enough votes to force a second round in two weeks.
Herders living in Mongolia's countryside, who represent around a third of the population, have already cast ballots at mobile polling booths in an election seen as a referendum on both economic policy and China's role in Mongolia's development.
Remote and landlocked Mongolia, best known as the birthplace of Mongol emperor Chinggis Khaan, is a parliamentary democracy and elected a new government last year. The presidential vote will serve as a crucial barometer of public opinion as the ruling MPP tries to steer the country out of an economic crisis.
Once Asia's fastest growing economies, Mongolia has seen foreign investment and commodity export earnings collapse, leaving it struggling to pay debts following years of generous government spending. The new government secured a $5.5 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund in May after implementing austerity measures.
"The electorate is not happy with IMF taxes and cuts," said Dale Choi, analyst and chief executive of the Altan Bumba Financial Group in Ulaanbaatar, in an emailed note. "But the MPP campaigned hard to explain why Mongolia is where it is now."
Under Mongolia's parliamentary system, the prime minister runs the government but the president has powers to veto legislation and make judicial appointments.
All three presidential candidates have promised to pull the country out of its current crisis, restore the stagnant economy to its former "boom" status, and reassess ties with neighbours, including China.
Enkhbold has run under the slogan "United Mongolia will win". Polling is not permitted during campaigning, but according to a national survey in March, Enkhbold's MPP - which won by a landslide in the parliamentary vote last year - is more trusted when it comes to running the country.
Battulga, who is suspicious of neighbouring China, Mongolia's major investor, also says he will restore Mongolia's "pride" under the slogan "Mongolia will win".
The populist politician, who derives his fashion attire from mafia boss Vito Corleone in "The Godfather" films and owns a Chinggis Khaan-themed amusement park, told Reuters at a recent rally he will win because his heart is "devoted" to Mongolia.
The election has also been played out under the shadow of corruption allegations engulfing all three candidates.
"(Corruption) is coming to such a level, to its tipping point, and where people may vote for completely new people," Ulaanbaatar-based political commentator Jargalsaikhan Dambadarja said. - Reuters...
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Early morning on June 26, Mongolians started voting for their fifth president nationwide.
The Mongolian people have three choices – Enkhbold Miyegombo from the Mongolian People’s Party, Battulga Khaltmaa from the Democratic Party and Ganbaatar Sainkhuu representing the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party.
There are 1.978.298 voters on the national level who cast their votes today at 1983 polling places stationed across the country. In the capital city alone, 403 polling places collect the votes of 936.651 voters until 10 PM.
The General Election Commission will collect reports of voter turnout at 12 PM, 5 PM and 10 PM from its sub-commissions, and report to the media.