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Party Vows Political War

Mar 27,2001

Monday's cabinet reshuffle is raising the usual partisan battle cries as President Kim Dae-jung and his ruling camp vow to see through planned reforms and take firmer control of state affairs with the revamped lineup.

The opposition camp is calling the cabinet shakeup nothing short of a declaration of political war.

The opposition blasted the reshuffle, in which the president promoted more than the expected number of politicians from his ruling Millennium Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the United Liberal Democrats.

The opposition Grand National Party, saying that the appointments are intended to "crush the opposition," indicated that it was considering submitting a resolution for the entire cabinet, led by Prime Minister Lee Han-dong, to step down.

At a meeting convened by party leader Lee Hoi-chang, the opposition also said that it will hold street rallies to denounce the state of government affairs. Protests are set to be held Thursday in Inchon and Friday in and around Seoul.

Kwon Chul-hyun, the party spokesman, identified two of the new appointees that he said were aimed at suppressing the opposition. "The appointments of Park Jie-won, the new presidential secretary for policy planning, and Shin Kuhn, director-general of the National Intelligence Service, both are indicative of a plot to divide the opposition," Mr. Kwon said.

Political observers noted that the appointments of Mr. Park and Mr. Shin reflect a comeback by many long-time core players in the ruling camp.

Mr. Park resigned his post as minister of culture and tourism eight months ago over his alleged involvement in an illegal loans scandal at Hanvit Bank.

Another trusted aide, Kwon Roh-kap, a former member of the ruling party's supreme council who had been ousted for wielding undue influence over party affairs, will reportedly open a new office on Wednesday in Mapo, downtown Seoul.

Political analysts interpreted the political resurgence of Mr. Kim's closest aides as a clear sign of his intent to steer through the tough political, economic and diplomatic challenges to come by leaning heavily on his most loyal supporters.





by Lee Soo-ho




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