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Opposition coalition to seek independent council probe

Posted December. 23, 2013 01:16,   


A coalition meeting of various organizations to find the facts over state agencies’ intervention in the presidential election and to recover constitutional order held a press conference at the parliamentarians’ hall at the National Assembly on Sunday, and announced that it will take motion to submit a “bill on appointment of an independent council to discover facts surrounding pan-governmental intervention in the presidential election.” The coalition meeting involves lawmakers with the main opposition Democratic Party, the minor Justice Party, independent lawmaker Rep. Ahn Chul-soo, and some of civic and religious organizations

The bill on independent council, which is submitted jointly by floor leaders Jun Byung-hun of the Democratic Party and Shim Sang-jeong of the Justice Party, and Rep. Song Ho-chang for Rep. Ahn’s group, defines as objects of the proposed probe “all illegal activities committed by state agencies including the National Intelligence Service, the Defense Ministry, the Veterans’ Affairs Ministry, the Safety and Public Administration Ministry, and the Unification Ministry that were revealed in the course of the presidential election.” It is very comprehensive. Choi Won-shik, head of the strategic and planning committee at the Democratic Party, said, “Suspicions surrounding the leak of the minutes on the 2007 inter-Korean summit, for which ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker Kim Moo-sung was probed by prosecutors, is also an object if independent council probe.”

In connection with election irregularities committed by state agencies, the coalition meeting is also set to include as objects of the probe suspicions over reduction and concealment of evidence, manipulation of probe, disclosure of classified information by the presidential office, the National Intelligence Service, the Justice Ministry, and the prosecution and police. The meeting also agreed to pick one of the two independent council candidates recommended by a nomination committee to be comprised of an equal number of members from the ruling and opposition parties. The meeting decided that the probe will be conducted for 60 days and can be extended by up to 45 days.

The bill on independent council can clear the National Assembly if it is deliberated and approved by the parliamentary Legislation and Judiciary Committee, before approval at the plenary session by half of the attendees with half of the registered lawmakers in attendance. It is virtually impossible for the bill to clear the Assembly without consent by the ruling Saenuri Party, which controls 155 seats of the 300-seat Assembly. “The deliberation of the special council bill constitutes proclamation in nature,” said a ranking official at the Democratic Party, “However, public opinion and rational on the probe is on our side.”