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Mongolia's Elbegdorj Wins Second Term as President

Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia has won a second term, in an election dominated by a debate over the country's vast mining wealth.

Preliminary results Thursday show President Elbegdorj took 50.2 percent of the previous day's vote, narrowly clearing the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off.

His main challenger, opposition lawmaker and former pro-wrestler Baterdene Badmaanyambuu, received nearly 42 percent. The country's first female presidential candidate, Health Minister Natsag Udval, came in a distant third place.

Mr. Elbegdorj is a Harvard-educated former journalist who campaigned on promises of fighting corruption and continuing his policy of using foreign cash to power Mongolia's rapidly growing economy.

The election was closely watched by foreign mining giants who have moved into the resource-rich country to exploit its still largely untapped reserves of gold, copper and iron.



While President Elbegdorj has advocated a free market economy, he has also moved toward heavier regulation of foreign investments and passed laws aimed at extracting more profits from foreign mining operations.

The foreign investment as a result of the mining boom has helped make Mongolia one of the world's fastest growing economies. Its GDP grew an astonishing 17 percent in 2011 and 12 percent last year.

But many Mongolians complain they have not benefited from the newfound wealth, with a third of the country's 2.8 million people living below the poverty line. There are also concerns about rising inflation and environmental damage to rural areas as a result of the mining boom.

The resource-rich country is a former Soviet client state that ended seven decades of communist rule in 1990. A strong U.S. ally, Mongolia held its first elections in 1992.

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