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Administration Denies Mulling Referendum on Sejong City

Posted March. 03, 2010 09:17,   


The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae yesterday denied that it will call a referendum on the Sejong City project amid the administration’s inability to reach a fundamental solution for the dispute.

The ruling Grand National Party has failed to set its official platform in a series of general meetings. A key presidential office also mentioned a “significant decision,” thus speculation on a referendum has emerged.

Nevertheless, President Lee Myung-bak has not announced his stance even after media fueled speculation on the referendum Sunday.

○ Not a fake battle

At his meeting with the media Monday, the presidential official said, “President Lee will not deal with the issue with a wooden sword.” He later told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone of “a real battle using the real sword.”

By mentioning the real sword, he ruled out the president’s withdrawal of his Sejong City plan if the party platform is not unified.

Other presidential officials also dismissed such an exit strategy as suggested by the pro-Park Geun-hye faction and certain ruling party members.

At a breakfast meeting with the party’s supreme council Nov. 30 last year, President Lee said, “We have to make an all-out effort to persuade the people (on the Sejong City project’s revision). If our efforts fail, we cannot push through our policy.”

Some say he hinted at the possibility of an exit strategy for the project with his comment.

The majority of the presidential staff, however, say he would never voluntarily give up his idea of the project.

○ Details of the battle

President Lee apparently wants to end the debate over the project, and has given the ruling party a chance to make a decision.

At a Feb. 12 breakfast meeting with new party executives, he asked them to lead others in making a decision. Since then, he has suggested no other measures but seems disappointed over the failure of representative politics to function well, having watched discussions among party members since the Lunar New Year holiday.

“President Lee did once consider calling a referendum but the possibility has decreased,” a presidential official said.