[EDITORIALS]Let Events Take Their Course

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[EDITORIALS]Let Events Take Their Course

Speculation over Prime Minister Lee Han-dong is flying in all directions, but his decision to resign is a natural outcome of events. When the National Assembly voted to oust Unification Minister Lim Dong-won, it was seeking the political responsibility for the confusion wrought by the southern delegation during the Aug. 15 Liberation Day celebration in Pyongyang. The prime minister's resignation is a natural consequence of breakdown of the ruling coalition forced by the vote. So continued debate about the prime minister smells fishy - it reflects wrangling between two political bosses, President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil, after the collapse of their coalition. But the president's efforts to retain the prime minister do not befit his decision "to stand alone," and will hamper efforts to revamp politics during the rest of his term. The natural flow of things should be for the prime minister to resign after approving a new cabinet lineup.

There is not much maneuvering room for the president in the new political order of a minority ruling party. The president must now cooperate with the opposition while appointing talented persons to his government. Good appointees will enhance the president's ability to persuade the public and allow him to take the initiative in state affairs, strengthening his hand with the opposition. This is perhaps the only survival strategy for the Millennium Democrats.

With the chance to appoint a new prime minister, the president can show that he can recruit talented individuals for his government; he is no longer bound by the political constraints that led him to choose first Kim Jong-pil, followed by Park Tae-joon and the current prime minister Lee Han-dong, all United Liberal Democrats.

Although the prime minister's role is limited, the office is prestigious and has moral sway. That is why a candidate for prime minister should stand for cooperative politics and bipartisanship.

The president should stress ability, not loyalty and regional ties, in choosing cabinet ministers to complete his reform program. The new unification minister should be balanced - someone who can rise above the ideological "sunshine policy" debate. The president should also consider whether Deputy Prime Minister Jin Nyum and his team are committed and have the proper strategy for an economic recovery.
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