Protesters in Mongolia tried to force their way into the State House over the weekend in response to allegations of corruption with officials involved in the country’s coal trade.
The U.S. Embassy in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar issued an alert on Monday, saying several hundred protesters gathered in the city’s Sukhbaatar Square in the freezing cold over the weekend and, with some people, made their way to the presidential residence and entered the building. warned about trying to enter.
Demonstrators stomped their feet to warm up, sang and chanted. They demanded that the government prosecute officials accused of stealing 385,000 tons of coal from warehouses on Mongolia’s border with China.
The charges are based on coal from the Tavan Tolgoi area in the southern Gobi desert, which is mined by state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT) and two other companies. Local media reported that ETT, which is listed on the Mongolian Stock Exchange, has been placed under state control while the government’s independent anti-corruption body investigates.
“Help us, our country is collapsing,” read one protester’s sign, Barron said.
At around 9:00 p.m. local time, police tried to disperse the crowd when clashes broke out between law enforcement and protesters.
Public outcry continues to grow in Mongolia after lawmakers with ties to its coal industry are accused of stealing billions of dollars worth of coal.
China is landlocked Mongolia’s main export of coal, cashmere, livestock and other resources.
Asked about allegations that coal had been stolen in Beijing to sell inside China, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said he was unaware of the “specific situation”.
“China is a friendly neighbor of Mongolia, and we believe that the Mongolian government will handle and investigate this matter properly. China’s competent authority will provide the necessary assistance as requested by the Mongolian side in accordance with laws and regulations,” said Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Economic conditions have worsened in the country of about 3.3 million people as inflation has soared to 15.2%, fueled in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report