Mongolia: Protesters Try To Storm State Palace

    Mongolia: Protesters Try To Storm State Palace
    Last updated Dec 07, 2022
    Image credit: AFP [via The Straits Times]


    • On Monday, thousands of people defied freezing temperatures in Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar, to demand "justice" against alleged corruption in the country's coal industry and soaring inflation, as well as the dissolution of parliament.[1]
    • Demonstrators gathered at the city's Sukhbaatar Square and marched to the presidential residence, with some attempting to force their way inside the building. Around 9 pm, police tried to break up the crowd as clashes erupted between law enforcement and protesters.[2]
    • After four guards were reportedly injured and protesters broke the metal fence of the State House, the Mongolian parliament held an online session to discuss a proposal to declare a state of emergency in Ulaanbaatar city. Lawmakers decided not to for now, but relevant measures are expected if the situation worsens.[3]
    • Independent broadcaster TenGer TV reported that the protests, which began on Sunday, were triggered by allegations of government officials profiting from illegal coal sales to China.[4]
    • Mongolia's anti-corruption authority announced in mid-November that over 30 officials, including the CEO of state-owned coal mining company Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, were under investigation for embezzlement.[5]
    • According to media reports, about 6.5M tons of coal — estimated to be worth some $1.8B — were smuggled out of the country under the alleged corruption scheme, with most of it heading to neighboring China while bypassing customs.[6]


    Establishment-critical narrative

    Though some protests might be instrumentalized for political purposes related to backroom dealings and political elites clashes, they express Mongolians' overall frustrations with their government. This is the second time this year that Mongolians have protested against the government in significant numbers; these demonstrations are clearly based on more than just political conspiracies. More must be done to address the people's concerns.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    The Mongolian government is doing all it can and has already ordered state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi to work openly and cooperate with the customs and tax authorities to make coal exports transparent while investigations into alleged illegal actions are underway. It is important to stress, though, that it would be impossible to illegally export millions of tons of coal without control.

    Establishment split