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Roh Denies Plans to Step Down Early

Posted January. 12, 2007 06:35,   


“There will be no stepping down during the term,” said President Roh Moo-hyun on Thursday in response to criticism from political circles who suspect President Roh is entertaining the thought of the reduction of his term with an aim to push ahead with the constitutional amendment to change the current single five-year presidential term to a four-year one and lift the ban on re-election of the president. Roh went on to say that he “will not put public confidence in me on the line for the amendment.”

President Roh said, “I don’t think turning down the constitutional amendment is equivalent to lack of confidence in me,” when asked about his course of action in case of the rejection of the amendment by the press at Chunchugwan, the main office building of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

Roh said “Even if the revised constitution is turned down, the president won’t have to feel bad and his constitutional rights will be kept intact. Therefore, whether it is approved or not, I will discharge my duty bestowed by law.”

Regarding his defection from the ruling Uri Party, President Roh said “My party membership can be reconsidered when opposition parties are ready to talk about the constitutional revision.”

Roh, earlier in the day, had a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae with Uri Party Chairman Kim Geun-tae, the party floor leader Kim Han-gil and others and said, “If deemed necessary to reach a national consensus and help the constitutional amendment, I’m willing to consider my defection from the party.”

But as opposition parties including the Grand National Party have said they would not call for Roh’s severing the ties with the party, the possibility of his defection doesn’t seem to be high.

In addition, concerning the rejection of the four opposition parties to participate in a luncheon meeting at Cheong Wa Dae scheduled for the day, Roh criticized, “Boycotting dialogues and debates adds up to boycotting democracy and squashing and skimping a significant national agenda before the public.”

He added, “This is not an attitude of a public party which proclaims to take the lead in running state affairs, backed by public support.”

Roh also said at the luncheon meeting with the ruling party leadership, “The opposition parties’ rejection of my invitation to Cheong Wa Dae reminds me of the dictatorship era. That they are assuming an arrogant attitude with high ratings in the polls and their turning down an offer from a president whom they see as nothing but a paper tiger just attests to their arrogance.”

Despite President Roh’s press conference, opposition parties including the GNP, Democratic Labor Party and others reiterated their stance of opposing Roh’s push for the constitutional amendment during his tenure.

GNP spokesperson Na Gyeong-won condemned the president saying, “Bulldozing the constitutional revision running against public opposition is nothing but an anti-democratic authoritarian idea, and the president’s naïve rhetoric for “a right time for a revision” cannot but keep frustrating the public.”