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Deliberation on Roh’s Alleged Involvement in Election Campaign

Deliberation on Roh’s Alleged Involvement in Election Campaign

Posted March. 03, 2004 22:21,   


The state-run National Elections Commission (Chairman Yoo Ji-dam) held a meeting yesterday to discuss President Roh Moo-hyun’s alleged violation against election laws, in which the level of how much sanctions should be placed, which caused a serious standoff until the last moment.

Since the outcome of the meeting is highly likely to be at the lowest level such as “request for cooperation of fair election” or “warning,” this is expected to trigger serious backlash from the opposition parties. Of them, the request for cooperation of fair election especially has little legal power because it only insinuates that Roh’s remarks are not illegal, yet it has potential to be.

At the meeting, President Roh’s remarks on February 24 at the Broadcasting Reporter’s Club, which was broadcasted live, was a centerpiece of discussion because it was up in the air whether his saying—“I expect all citizens of the nation to overwhelmingly support the Uri Party”— can be regarded as illegal pre-election campaigning or government authority-involved campaigning.

In particular, members of the commission are known to have shown clear disparity over whether his remarks were violation of “mandatory neutrality of civil servants on election” (the election law, clause 9) and “prohibition of civil servants’ involvement in election campaign” (the election law, clause 60).

A high-ranking official in the commission said, “Different views appeared since the president is not allowed to be involved in election campaigning on the election law and the official campaign period has not embarked yet.”

The official also said, “Members confronted one another on whether Roh’s words were intended for normal involvement in campaigning or just his personal opinion on the election.”

The Commission, prior to the meeting, opened a preparatory debate with all members attending.

In response, the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) and Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) condemned, “The commission has punished President Roh lightly again and, thus, we promise to advance the impeachment of the commission chairman Yoo Ji-dam.”

GNP vice spokesman Eun Jin-soo said, “We will no longer wait and see if the commission gives up its official duty of cracking down on illegal government authority involvement in election while bypassing the obvious infringement of the election law.”

“President Roh is now calling for impeachment himself by continuously ignoring warnings of both the commission and the opposition parties,” MDP said.

The commission, on December 30, warned President Roh for saying phrases such as “bilateral confronting structure,” and regarding this, it said, “It is hardly taken on as the violation of the election law, yet it might be understood mistakenly as intended involvement in the election.” Because of this, it has even asked Roh for the cooperation in achieving fair election campaigning mood.

Min-Hyuk Park mhpark@donga.com