중앙데일리

Corralling new cabinet chief

Move to limit prime minister-designate gains

July 16,2002
A movement to limit the powers of the prime minister-designate ahead of confirmation hearings by the National Assembly is gaining strength. The issue, raised by the main opposition Grand National Party on Monday, gained momentum Tuesday as some members of the governing Millennium Democratic Party expressed their support.

Grand Nationals and Millennium Democrats who worked in the judicial system are calling for limiting an appointee's power, but differed on alternatives to replace the current system.

"The outgoing prime minister could remain in office until the designate is confirmed by the National Assembly, but in that case the outgoing prime minister may have problems performing the duties smoothly," said Chun Jung-bae, a Millennium Democrat.

"The president should name the prime minister and state affairs should be managed under a caretaker system before the new premier is approved," said Song Hun-suk, a MDP lawmaker.

Representative Kim Yong-kyun of the Grand National Party said the outgoing prime minister should be able to recommend new cabinet members before the new prime minister is approved. Many raised similar concerns of an administrative vacuum while awaiting parliamentary approval of the prime minister. Prompt parliamentary approval of the prime minister is required for the smooth operation of the president's cabinet, since the president can appoint the cabinet members only after they are approved by the prime minister.

Other lawmakers called for a revision of the constitution regarding the acting prime minister system. A GNP lawmaker, Yoon Yeo-joon, predicted that if the system is not changed it would not be easy for the president elected in December to replace the prime minister if the relationship between opposition and ruling parties is rocky.

Representative Lee Ju-young of the Grand national Party said the president-elect should name a prime minister and the outgoing president request parliamentary confirmation, so that the new prime minister can be approved before the new chief takes office.

Political pundits said lawmakers are looking to curb presidential influence by changing the acting prime minister system.

Legal experts agreed with the legislators, saying that under a strict interpretation of the constitution prime minister-designates should be banned from performing official duties before confirmation by parliament.

by Kim Chong-hyuk




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