Miyeegombo Enkhbold, the former mayor of Ulan Bator, was chosen by his Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) on Tuesday, winning 187 votes at a party conference with only one against, said Otgonbayar, the party's permanent secretary.

"Enkhbold's political experience is good," Otgonbayar said. "He's known as someone who doesn't talk much, but does the work." 

Enkhbold, 41, is also the MPRP's chairman and had been
regarded as the favourite for the position. 

His nomination will be presented later on Tuesday to Nambar Enkhbayar, the nation's president, who is also an MPRP member.

Parliament could vote on the issue as early as tomorrow, Otgonbayar said. 

Record questioned

The small Civil Will party said it would not vote for the new prime minister, arguing that during his tenure as Ulan Bator's mayor, air pollution and traffic problems worsened, while corruption was also not dealt with properly.

Hundreds protest against MPRP
for corruption on Monday

Sanjaasuren Oyun, the party's leader, said: "From the way he managed the town, we don't think he will manage the country well. We don't think he will have the political will to fight corruption." 

But with the MPRP confident of securing a majority in parliament with the support of various other minority parties, approval of Enkhbold as prime minister is all but certain.

Otgonbayar said the new cabinet, which will be selected in the coming days - would maintain its existing foreign policies, and its military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone would not change. 

"We will stick to the policy of support of the war against terrorism," he said.

Troops in Iraq

Mongolia has deployed a regiment of 120 soldiers in Iraq for a little more than two years, as well as a smaller force consisting of about 10 officers in Afghanistan for around the same period.

Mongolia also has 100 soldiers under UN control in Sierra Leone.

As hundreds of anti-corruption protesters walked through the streets of Ulan Bator on Monday, the MPRP was holed up at party headquarters deciding in which direction it planned to take the impoverished nation. 

The MPRP engineered the
removal of Elbegdorj

The MPRP, which ruled Mongolia for nearly 70 years when the country was a Soviet satellite, engineered the removal over the weekend of Tsakhia Elbegdorj, the prime minister, by walking out on a coalition government.

It has called on all parties to participate in a new coalition government, but has so far not received a positive response from Elbegdorj's Democratic party.

The MPRP won the first post-Soviet elections in 1992 but lost power for four years in 1996 before storming back in 2000 to win 72 of the 76 parliamentary seats. 

It was initially forced into the coalition with the Democratic party after an electoral backlash against its dominance at the 2004 polls.