Mar 30, 2007

Cabinet to review constitutional bill

Korea Times
March 30, 2007


The Cabinet is expected to deliberate Presidential Roh Moo-hyun's proposal for a constitutional revision as early as April 10, despite lukewarm responses from the public and political circles.

"I think the draft revision could be presented to a Cabinet meeting on April 10," Chief of Staff Moon Jae-in told reporters yesterday.

He added that Roh will introduce the change in the April parliamentary session at the latest.

The bill designed to allow for two consecutive four-year presidential terms would have to be put to a vote in the parliament within 60 days of the introduction of the president's initiative.

Moon bristled over attacks from the opposition Grand National Party about the government's publicity campaign for the change.

The GNP accused Cheong Wa Dae of engaging in illegal pre-election campaigning by encouraging government agencies to promote its revision drive to the public.

A constitutional revision requires approval of more than two-thirds of lawmakers and then majority support in a referendum.

However, the National Election Commission concluded that the activities were not illegal because the president has yet to introduce the constitutional change.

Citing the conclusion, Moon said the GNP is making "groundless political attacks" on the president.

Roh recently called for shifting from a single five-year presidential term to two consecutive four-year terms to promote stability and consistency in the nation's politics. He said this year represents a one-in-20 year opportunity to revise the constitution without cutting short the tenures of incumbents.

However, the GNP vowed to vote against the proposal, saying Roh's proposal is a tactic to shake up the political landscape ahead of the December presidential election. The GNP is enjoying over 40 percent support, while the Uri Party's ratings hover around 10 percent.

Some Uri lawmakers are also likely to vote against the proposal as they are trying to distance themselves from the unpopular president.

Amid steadfast opposition, Roh said that he is willing to defer his proposed constitutional revision if the GNP and its prospective presidential candidates swear to accept a revision under the next government and present a concrete plan for it.

However, presidential hopefuls turned a cold shoulder to his offer.

Prospects are dim for the passage of the bill as approval would be impossible without support from the GNP, which holds 127 seats in the 297-member unicameral parliament. The Uri has 109 seats.


By Jin Hyun-joo


(hjjin@heraldm.com)

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