Home>News Center>World

Impeachment motion submitted against Roh
Updated: 2004-03-09 17:03

South Korean political turmoil deepened Tuesday as the two main opposition parties submitted an impeachment motion against President Roh Moo-hyun after he was found to have violated election laws with comments aimed at influencing parliamentary polls.

S.Korean President Roh Moo-hyun takes a moment to stare at the sky as he shakes hands with cadets during their graduation ceremony at the military academy in Seoul March 9, 2004. [Reuters]
The proposal was submitted to the National Assembly with the support of both the Millennium Democratic Party and the main opposition Grand National Party, an MDP spokesman, Kim Young-chang, said.

The motion needs a simple majority of the 273-member assembly to make it to debate and a two-thirds majority to pass. It was submitted with the support of 159 lawmakers, more than half, Kim said.

"We believe we won't have big difficulties in passing it," Kim said.

But GNP floor leader Hong Sa-duk cautioned, however, that the motion's fate was far from certain because there was opposition to impeachment within the parties, especially among young lawmakers.

"Even if we cannot achieve the two-third majority, we hope our action would serve as a stern warning to the president not to violate laws," Hong said.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun takes a breather to compose himself at a graduation ceremony of a military academy in Seoul March 9, 2004. [Reuters]
It was unclear when the measure would go to a vote.

If the National Assembly approves Roh's impeachment, his presidential powers are frozen and Prime Minister Koh Gun would take over his duties. The matter would then be passed to the country's Constitutional Court, where six of nine judges must rule against Roh to unseat the leader.

An impeachment against a South Korean president has never made it as far as the Constitutional Court.

Last week, the country's election watchdog ruled that Roh violated election rules with comments that could unfairly influence next month's parliamentary poll, although it found that Roh's infraction was minor.

Roh had responded to a journalist's question last month by calling for "overwhelming support" for the minor Uri Party, which backs the president.

The MDP said last week it would try to impeach the president if he did not apologize by Sunday for violating election laws during the news conference.

Roh failed to do so, and opposition officials accused the president of failing to properly respond to the ruling and ignoring "the will of the people and opposition parties."

On Monday, Roh's office dismissed the impeachment plans as unfounded political posturing. But his spokesman Yoon Sock-joong said Roh's staff was preparing a defense should the motion pass.

Roh, who took office in February 2003, has no party affiliation, but has said he plans to join the liberal Uri Party, which has 47 seats in the 273-member National Assembly. The MDP has 62 and the GNP 146, giving the two parties 208 seats, or three-quarters the assembly's total.

Roh is grappling with an opposition-controlled Assembly critical of the president, and hopes the Uri Party can expand its ranks in nationwide polls slated for April 15.

Domestic politics have been roiled over Roh's remark and a political fund scandal in the run up to the 2002 presidential elections, where Roh narrowly edged GNP contender Lee Hoi-chang.

On Monday, prosecutors said the campaign organizers of Roh and Lee had collected $9.7 million and $70.3 million respectively in illegal funds from big businesses.

Roh boasts that his campaign was far cleaner than Lee's, and has vowed to step down if his campaign had collected more than one-tenth of illegal funds collected by Lee's camp.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Kerry hits back at Bush, Cheney over leadership



Lee lets US Senate act as if HK was 51st state



Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable missile



Details of constitutional amendants out



Maglev planned between Shanghai, Hangzhou



Monitoring on foreign banks stepped up


  Iraqi politicians sign interim constitution
  Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable missile
  Zimbabwe seizes US plane
  Haiti's interim president sworn in
  Women bearing brunt of AIDS epidemic
  US sets 'terrible example' in Afghanistan
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2003