중앙데일리

Roh sees Kim, renews reform call

Dec 24,2002
President-elect Roh Moo-hyun said yesterday that he would concentrate on government reforms and his prime minister would attend to the day-to-day running of the government. At a ceremony wrapping up the work of the Millennium Democratic Party election committee, Mr. Roh said that he would govern with a theme of "president for reforms prime minister for stability and balance." Perhaps more significantly, he suggested that he would be open to working with a prime minister selected by the National Assembly if the MDP did not regain a majority position in the legislature; he referred to a French-style "cohabitation."

"It is clear that the people are calling for change," Mr. Roh said. "On the other hand, the people want the changes to proceed smoothly."

After the ceremony, Mr. Roh met President Kim Dae-jung for the first time since his election triumph last Thursday. After the meeting at the Blue House, a Blue House spokesman said the two men agreed that North Korea's recent saber-rattling on nuclear issues must be handled peacefully and pledged to make the transition to the Roh administration a smooth one. Mr. Roh has pledged to continue Mr. Kim's "sunshine policy" of engagement with the North.

Mr. Roh also said yesterday that his transition team would focus more on policy analysis than on asserting its authority in the government's day-to-day operations. He suggested that there would not be a large number of transition team jobs for party members, saying that he did not want to poach all the talent from his party while the party itself was embroiled in controversy over internal reforms. Political observers say a power struggle is under way inside the party, with members personally loyal to Kim Dae-jung feeling some pressure to step aside for Mr. Roh's "new generation." Mr. Roh added that he would continue to consult with transition committee members after his inauguration but said he had made no decisions on his cabinet nominees. Earlier, Mr. Roh had called for a separation of his political party and the administration. Today he pledged to stay out of party politics, but left the door open to intervention if there is turmoil in the party.

Mr. Roh affirmed his campaign pledge to overhaul the nation's legislative election structure. At present, Korea has one assemblyman per district plus a group of lawmakers distributed proportionally to the top vote-getting parties. He said he would like to develop a system, in which districts send more than one member to the Assembly.

Meanwhile, calls for reform inside the MDP have triggered a showdown between senior executives, who are mostly members of the Donggyo-dong faction of long-time Kim Dae-jung allies and younger lawmakers determined to wield a broom. At a meeting of senior party officials yesterday, Hahn Hwa-kap, the party's chairman, spoke ambiguously about whether he would step down, saying that reforms should proceed with "principles and democracy." Twenty-three Roh allies in the party called for a wholesale revamp of the party's leadership, and suggested they could abandon the party to form a new one.

by Koh Han-sun




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