Mongolian lawmakers choose ex-communist as new prime minister

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia - Mongolia's parliament on Wednesday chose a Moscow-educated translator of Charles Dickens and Mongolian epics as its new prime minister.

Nambaryn Enkhbayar won unanimous approval from the Great Hural, Mongolia's parliament, three weeks after his ex-communist party overwhelmingly won parliamentary elections.

His Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, which now calls itself center-left, has promised that the nation won't return to communism but favors slowing the nation's race toward capitalism.

Enkhbayar said he plans to clean up the environment, promote a free press, attract foreign investment and increase Mongolia's population.

''We only have 2.4 million people. Increasing the population will secure our independence, our market economy and our democracy,'' he said.

A key issue in the July 2 election was Mongolia's struggle to remake itself from a Soviet satellite state into a modern, capitalist democracy, a process that began with a peaceful revolution in 1990.

While the economy is growing, many Mongolians have lost their jobs. More than a third of the population lives below the poverty level, and unemployment rates are as high as 50 percent in some towns. A drought this year has killed 2.4 million herd animals, the livelihood of thousands of nomad families.

Enkhbayar, 42, graduated from the Literature Institute in Moscow and also studied at Leeds University in northern England. He served as Minister of Culture from 1992-96 and has translated classic Mongolian epics as well as Western literature.

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