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“Roh-Chung Joint Government” Emerges as Point of Contention

“Roh-Chung Joint Government” Emerges as Point of Contention

Posted November. 26, 2002 22:54,   


The issue of revision of the Constitution is emerging as an important issue, as Chung Mong-joon of National Alliance 21 is asking Roh Moo-hyun, presidential candidate of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) to take as a campaign pledge the revision of the Constitution to separate power of the president and the prime minister.

National Alliance 21 is arguing that even before the revision, Mr. Roh should express his willingness to accept such a government system, which is similar to a “joint government,” while Mr. Roh is careful about the constitutional revision, conscious of the possible criticism that he is to share the power. As a result, there is a possibility that Mr. Chung’s request becomes an obstacle to the cooperation between the MDP and National Alliance 21.

At a meeting with reporters on Nov. 26 at Mt. Seorak, where he was taking a rest with his family, Mr. Chung said, "In the December election, the revision of the Constitution for a weak presidential system should be taken as an important issue. I suggested this issue at an encounter with Mr. Roh."

The new presidential system proposed by Chung is about separation of authority between the president and the prime minister. The president would be in charge of unification, diplomacy and national defense and the prime minister would control domestic affairs such as economy, public security and welfare.

Chung quoted Roh in their contact as saying, "You want the revision of the Constitution in 2004, while I want that in 2007. What is a big difference?" He added that Roh retorted as if the revision in 2004 would be hard to achieve, which hinted that there were some differences between him and Roh.

As for the issue, Lee Nak-yeon, MDP spokesman, said with reserve, "Because more than two thirds of the total assembly seats are needed for constitutional revision, and Lee Hoi-chang of the majority Grand National Party also agrees on that, his opinion should be considered."

Cheon Seong-chul, chief of the policy planning committee of National Alliance 21, said at an official meeting for policy coordination between the MDP and his party held on Nov. 26, "In order to promote cooperation between the two, an institutional framework is needed. The suggested presidential system should be adopted to offset the weakness of the current strong presidential system, in which the president enjoys an `imperial power.`"

Meanwhile, with respect to the constitutional amendment issue, GNP spokesman Nam Kyung-pil said, "It is a kind of power-sharing between Roh and Chung. The agreement reached behind the scenes at the meetings for the single candidacy should be disclosed."

Young-Chan Yoon Sung-Won Park yyc11@donga.com swpark@donga.com