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 Cheong Wa Dae fumes at watchdog ruling

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PostSubject: Cheong Wa Dae fumes at watchdog ruling   Tue 19 Jun - 10:49

GNP mulls further legal action to stop Roh from meddling in election


President Roh Moo-hyun's office yesterday criticized the National Election Commission's Monday ruling that his latest comments were in violating of election laws.

Cheong Wa Dae said it would agree to respect the ruling but revealed bitter sentiments toward the decision, saying that from now on, it would discuss with the commission in advance before releasing major statements or speeches.

"We see that the president has no other choice but to receive prior permission for whatever he will say," said Cheon Ho-seon, the presidential spokesman.

The ruling does not accompany tangible penalties.

The presidential office criticized the election laws and their implementation. "The road to democracy and constitutionalism appears to be a long way off. In this case, both the law and the implementation were very narrow-minded. We are seeing democracy in one of its lowest forms," Cheon said.

The Grand National Party urged the president to wholeheartedly accept and acquiesce to the decision.

The party criticized the watchdog agency for failing to issue a harsher penalty against the president.

GNP's floor leader Kim Hyong-o said the party would consider filing a complaint with the prosecution over his repeated political remarks.

On Monday night, the commission ruled that the president violated Article 9 of the law that stipulates government officials' political neutrality.

"The president, considering the gravity of his position, should have refrained from issuing comments that could affect the election. In this aspect, the president failed to uphold the law with his speeches at Wonkwang University, the June 10 pro-democracy movement commemoration ceremony and the June 13 interview with The Hankyoreh newspaper," the election commission said in a statement.

It noted that the president was in violation a second time following its earlier ruling on June 7 after the president criticized the GNP and its presidential hopefuls in a speech to his supporters.

In that speech, Roh questioned and ridiculed the campaign pledges of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, the top GNP contenders. Lee is currently embroiled in a litigation battle with the president. His spokespeople filed a libel lawsuit against the presidential spokesman this Monday to revenge Cheong Wa Dae for filing libel charges against them last week.

The president earlier scorned the first ruling from the watchdog, calling it "outdated and unrealistic." He also called it "unconstitutional." He also said he was only responding to the GNP offensive.

The conservative party has on numerous occasions called for a government change to remedy the follies committed by the Roh administration.

The GNP cites the North Korean nuclear program, the warped relationship with the United States and a low economic growth rate, among others.

The Uri Party also called on the GNP to refrain from further assault on Roh. Toward the president, it said he should accept and respect the commission's ruling.

"We respect the ruling and call for the president to do likewise," said Suh Hae-suk, the party spokeswoman.

By Kim Ji-hyun

(jemmie@heraldm.com)


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