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Prosecutors and Police to Combat Regionalism

Mar 07,2000
The nation's prosecution, the Central Election Management Committee (CEMC), and the police decided Monday to take strong measures against attempts by political parties to aggravate regional antagonism as part of their strategy for the upcoming April general elections.

The Citizens' Alliance for the 2000 General Elections (CAGE) also declared "war against regionalism", and said it will campaign to prevent candidates who instigate regionalism from winning in the general elections. The civic group even said it would file lawsuits to nullify the election results if such candidates win seats in the general elections.

Prosecutors held a meeting Monday morning and decided to take harsh measures to put a stop to acts that further propel regionalism. At the meeting, prosecutor-general Park Soon-yong said, "The prosecution will investigate any persons who take advantage of regional antagonisms to spread negative propaganda. We will take action even before any lawsuits are filed against them by the victims of propaganda."

The prosecution plans to investigate and arrest any person stoking regionalist tendencies by applying every relevant law, including slandering candidates and propagating false facts.

The nation's police also said it would investigate and arrest any candidates who encourage regional antagonism. To that end, the police will record candidates' speeches at campaign sites and carefully examine the tapes for any possible violation of the law. The police will also step up its watch on political activities conducted through cyberspace and actively cooperate with civic groups striving to ensure fair elections.

A police official said, "We have so far discovered five cases related to instigation of regionalism. We have booked one person without detention and are currently investigating four other individuals."

The CEMC also sent official documents to each political party to express concerns over politicians' statements provoking regionalism, and asked them to refrain from such comments in the future. The committee said, "Statements that fuel regionalism aggravate tensions between citizens of different regions, and must be stopped as they divide the public."

The Citizens' Alliance for the 2000 General Elections also announced that it will end its protest sit-in at the Myongdong Cathedral to devote all efforts towards combating regionalism. The group said, "We will include any candidate prompting regionalism on the blacklist of unfit candidates, and will file suits to nullify the results if they are elected." The civic group criticized Lee Hoi-chang, president of the opposition Grand National Party, for fueling regionalism by referring to Taegu as "my hometown in my heart", and Rhee In-je, the ruling Millennium Democratic Party's election preparatory committee chairman, for making comments inciting regioinal antagonisms. It also cited Kim Jong-pil, honorary chairman of the United Liberal Democrats, and Rep. Kim Yoon-hwan and Rep. Kim Kwang-il of the new Democratic People's Party (DPP) as the key instigators of regional tensions. The civic group plans to tour ten regions starting on March 13 to overcome regionalism and combat corrupt political practices.





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