[EDITORIALS]The commission’s cowardice

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[EDITORIALS]The commission’s cowardice

Once again, the National Election Commission is behaving in a cowardly fashion. The commission, which has an obligation to submit an opinion on the impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun to the Constitutional Court, is to send this reply instead: “No opinion.” This institution, obliged to provide the court with the legal basis for its finding that Mr. Roh violated Article 9 of the Election of Public Officials and the Prevention of Election Malpractices Act, has no opinion on the matter. Can this be true?
It was the commission’s double dealing that kindled the fire of impeachment in the first place. Early this month, it ruled that Mr. Roh’s remark at the Broadcast Journalists’ Club ― “I expect people to send overwhelming support to Our Open Party in the legislative elections” ― violated election law. However, in an official document sent to the president, the commission did not specify that he had “violated the law.” In this document, from which Mr. Roh read during his press conference the day before he was impeached, was written, “[The remark] is not considered to have violated the clause banning prior election campaigning, but we want the president, as a civil servant, to maintain his obligation of neutrality.”
Based on this, Mr. Roh claimed it was only the commission’s opinion, not a warning, and refused the opposition’s demand for an apology. In reaction to his refusal, the opposition parties voted for impeachment. The commission says it used a roundabout expression as a courtesy to the president, but it did so, in practice, to flatter the powerful.
The commission still maintains its ambiguity. To prevent confusion caused by the impeachment, and for a just decision from the Constutional Court, it is important that it clarify its position. Was the remark in violation of the election laws, or not? Why can’t the commission answer that? Why is it so cowardly?
The nation is divided over impeachment. The majority of the people want the Constitutional Court to come to a swift decision, so that the administration will be normalized soon. The commission has the right to give an authoritative interpretation of the issue, and it has the authority to make its own judgment. It should not avoid its responsibilities any longer.
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