Vote to dismiss prime minister fails

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Vote to dismiss prime minister fails

A motion to dismiss Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik failed after ruling party lawmakers boycotted the Assembly’s voting session in defiance of the main opposition Democratic United Party.

Kim had come under fire over the government’s handling of a controversial military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan last month, which was abruptly postponed amid mounting criticism from the public and the opposition parties.

Park Jie-won, floor leader of the DUP, submitted a motion to dismiss the prime minister last Tuesday after receiving signatures of the party’s 126 lawmakers. For a motion to pass, it must receive a majority of votes in the 300-seat legislature.

Just after the plenary session was held for the voting, all of the incumbent Saenuri Party lawmakers walked out of the room, leaving only 138 opposition lawmakers.

The Korean government had planned to sign the General Security of Military Information Agreement with Japan last month, but at the last minute abruptly postponed the signing after domestic criticism mounted from lawmakers and the public.

The government was blamed for trying to fast-track through the sensitive military deal with Japan, Korea’s former colonial ruler from 1910 to 1945. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the deal would have secured Korea more access to intelligence on North Korea. “We denounced the Saenuri Party’s agreement with the Lee Myung-bak administration’s signing of the bilateral Korea-Japan military information exchange pact, which is an act betraying the nation,” said Wu Won-sik, a spokesman for the DUP, at a briefing on Saturday.

The Saenuri Party accused the DUP of dealing the matter with political intentions ahead of the presidential elections in December, by “distracting public attention” from whether to detain the DUP’s floor leader Park, who was recently accused of being involved in the savings bank bribery scandal.

“The Saenuri Party judged that the bilateral military pact hasn’t been signed yet and Prime Minister Kim officially made an apology for it,” said Hong Il-pyo, a spokesman for the ruling party. “So we thought it would be improper to dismiss Kim.”

By Lee Eun-joo, Kim Hee-jin []
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