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Liberal Party Unlikely to OK Prime Minister Nominee

Posted February. 25, 2008 03:14,   


The liberal United Democratic Party is expected to reject the nomination of Han Seung-soo as the first prime minister of the Lee Myung-bak administration, but might not express its discontent as its official position.

On a radio talk show Saturday, party floor spokesman Choi Jae-sung, “I believe our party members in charge of the [confirmation] hearing will render an unqualified verdict on Mr. Han. Based on the criteria we have employed, it is hard for him to pass.”

Lawmakers have grilled Han over allegations of tax evasion, real estate speculation and draft dodging during his confirmation hearing. The party is also poised to attack his integrity.

Notwithstanding, certain voices in the party remain cautious over how to vote in the full session of the National Assembly tomorrow, noting that a rejection might backfire and face severe condemnation from the public.

Choi said, “Han will be the first prime minister of the incoming Lee administration. Politically, it is us who are in a limbo. At first, we deemed Lee’s choice acceptable. Now, things have turned negative. As for the confirmation vote, our party will set forth guidelines as early as [today].”

The party is also promising to scrutinize new Cabinet members and senior presidential aides, saying it will take advantage of the confirmation hearings as an opportunity to impress the public.

Party spokesman Wu Sang-ho told reporters yesterday at party headquarters in Seoul, “More and more Koreans have begun to doubt the integrity of the nominees and are criticizing them. All of [the nominees’] explanations are meager weird excuses.” Wu then demanded the withdrawal of several of the nominations.

The party, however, is unlikely to boycott any confirmation hearings for the sake of political practicality.

A party source on the condition of anonymity said, “It is safe to assume [party floor leader] Kim Hyo-seok’s boycott comment as a strong warning against Lee Chun-ho [the nominee for gender equality minister] and Nam Hong-ju [the nominee for unification minister].”

Under current law, the National Assembly must act on the administration’s official confirmation request within 20 days of receipt. Failure to do so could result in the administration pressing the legislature by granting it a 10-day grace period.

If this fails, the president can appoint a Cabinet member without a public hearing.