NEC strips 6 UPP pols of their seats on local councils

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NEC strips 6 UPP pols of their seats on local councils

In line with the Constitutional Court’s ruling disbanding the leftist Unified Progressive Party, the National Election Commission stripped six UPP politicians of seats on local councils.

The six were proportional representatives on the municipal council of Gwangju, the North Jeolla and South Jeolla provincial governments, a county and two small cities. UPP representatives elected by geographical constituencies weren’t unseated.

The decision by the electoral watchdog comes three days after the Constitutional Court handed down a landmark ruling that forced the dissolution of the UPP for accepting North Korean ideology and putting national security at risk.

Citing Article 192 of the Public Official Election Act, the state-run commission said the law states that local council men and women elected through the proportional system should be stripped of their positions when their parties are merged or disbanded.

But 31 local council members of the UPP elected from geographical constituencies will maintain their seats as independents.

All five of the party’s representatives in the National Assembly were stripped of their seats, including three representing geographical constituencies because the law governing the National Assembly is different from the one governing local councils.

The leadership of the party staged a rally in central Seoul on Saturday protesting the Constitutional Court’s decision. Lee Jung-hee, the former UPP chairwoman, was expected to file administrative litigation challenging the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

The UPP made it clear it would mount an all-out protest against the decision, saying the nation’s highest court violated the constitutional right to hold public office. The six local politicians stripped of their jobs Monday also protested the decision by the National Election Commission, calling it invalid and unlawful in a joint statement.

Oh Byung-yun, who lost his National Assembly seat Friday, contended in his argument against the ruling that a much stronger clause in the Constitution that stipulated the loss of parliamentary seats for lawmakers belonging to a dissolved political entity was deleted in a 1987 constitutional amendment.

While the disgruntled former lawmakers said they were determined to bring the issue to an administrative court, it is highly unlikely that the appeal will be accepted. It isn’t common for an administrative court to rule on Constitutional Court judgements.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]




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