Opposition parties seek to oust premier

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Opposition parties seek to oust premier

Opposition parties agreed yesterday to jointly submit a resolution to remove Prime Minister Chung Un-chan from his post because of the government’s handling of the Sejong City issue.

But whether they can muster the necessary majority to approve the resolution depends mostly on how rival factions in the ruling Grand National Party react.

The leaders of the Democratic, Democratic Labor, New Progressive and Creative Korea parties attended a breakfast meeting and reached the agreement. The resolution seeks to pressure President Lee Myung-bak to dismiss Chung.

The parties said the move is to hold the prime minister responsible for Lee’s governance.

Unless there is a special reason, the president is required to accept the lawmakers’ recommendation to replace the prime minister when such a resolution is adopted.

Another opposition party - the conservative Liberty Forward Party - also joined the move to oust Chung. The party, whose stronghold is the Chungcheong provinces, has been particularly upset about the Lee administration’s plan to revise the development plan of Sejong City. The city is located in South Chungcheong.

“On Friday, I met with Democratic Party floor leader Lee Kang-rae at the main chamber and agreed to jointly sponsor the resolution shortly after the legislature completes questioning of the government,” said Ryu Keun-chan, floor leader of the Liberty Forward Party.

The lawmakers’ inspection of the administration is scheduled to end tomorrow.

But it remains unclear if the opposition party lawmakers would actually be able to fire Chung. Under the Article 63 of the Constitution, submitting the resolution requires one-third of the incumbent lawmakers. The National Assembly currently has 297 lawmakers, and the opposition parties together have enough lawmakers to submit it.

Adopting the resolution, however, requires a majority vote. While at least 149 lawmakers must support the resolution to fire Chung, the ruling Grand National Party currently occupies 169 seats in the legislature.

The Grand National Party’s floor leader, Ahn Sang-soo, condemned the move. “The plan to submit the resolution is only a political tactic, and we will not agree to discuss it,” Ahn said at a meeting with the party’s senior officials.

All could rest on how pro-Park Geun-hye lawmakers inside the Grand National Party react to the resolution. Park, former chairwoman of the GNP and one of the strongest contenders for the 2012 presidential election, has insisted that the initial plan to relocate government offices to Sejong City be followed.

Pro-Park lawmakers constitute 50 to 60 members of the GNP, and their votes are crucial.

Representative Lee Jung-hyun, who often acts as a spokesman of the pro-Park faction, said in an interview with SBS radio that pro-Park lawmakers have never considered the possibility of supporting the resolution.

“That’s an enormous political action,” Lee said. “That’s something only the opposition parties can talk about.”

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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