Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat was the first democratically elected president of Mongolia, and served as the president of Mongolia from 03 September 1990 to 20 June 1997. Ochirbat was born in 1942 in Zavhan Province, Mongolia. He began his education in Ulaanbaatar and later earned advanced degrees in mining engineering in the Soviet Union. Ochirbat began his career as an adviser in Mongolia's Ministry of Industry in 1966.
On 10 December 1987 a number of ministers and chairmen were relieved of their duties asministers and chairmen of state committees of the MPR according to the 09 December 1987 Decree of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural of the MPR. These included Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat, chairman of the State Committee for Economic Relations Abroad of the MPR. The same day, Ochirbat was appointed minister of foreign economic relations and supply of the MPR.
From March 12 to 14, 1990, the Eighth Plenary Session of the Nineteenth National Party Congress was held in response to the continual protests. The five-man Political Bureau was replaced with a more reform-minded leadership. The new members included Gombojabyn Ochirbat, the former chairman of the Central Council of the Mongolian Trade Unions. Sixty-one-year-old Ochirbat — seen by observers as a compromise candidate — became general secretary of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party.
On 22 March 1990, forty-eight-year-old Minister of Foreign Economic Relations and Supply Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat (no relation to the new party general secretary) became chairman of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural — the equivalent of president.
On 06 April 1990, Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat, chairman of the Presidium of the Mongolian Great People’s Hural, said it was important to ensure stability for the country. Ochirbat said that “no matter what kind of reform we would choose, it is important we ensure stability and a normal life for the people.” He said the urgent task for the country’s supreme power institution is to work out laws governing reforms of the political system. He said the draft laws on political parties and on the country’s state system worked out cooperatively with the newly-formed political parties, social organizations and alliances were being discussed by the people. “We should establish a nation ruled by law,” he said, adding that if the newly-established political parties, social organizations and alliances respect the Constitution and carry out their activities within the bounds of law, state institutions at all levels would pay attention to their voice.
On 13 April 1990, the a number of individuals were elected members of the Central Committee of the MPRP at the Extraordinary Party Congress. These included Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat, who at that time was Chairman of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural of the MPRP.
Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat was sworn in as Mongolia's first elected president in September 1990, the day after he had been overwhelmingly voted in by the First Session of the Twelfth People's Great Hural. While noting Mongolia's "historically . . . complicated situation" in his nationally televised inaugural address, Ochirbat stressed the need to move away from excessive involvement with the Soviet Union and pursue a nonaligned foreign policy with stronger ties with the nations of the Asia-Pacific region. He called for the introduction of a market economy domestically, and said he would seek membership with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.
On June 6, 1993 the first direct presidential election was held. Ochirbat ran against the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) candidate, Lodongiyn Tudev, under the banner of the Democratic Union coalition of two democratic parties, the Mongolian National Democratic Party and the Mongolian Social Democratic Party. Incumbent Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat won the first popular presidential election with 57.8 percent of the vote, running as the candidate of the democratic opposition.
Ochirbat failed to win the election in 1997, losing to Natsagiin Bagabandi.
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