Opposition urges Roh to reveal all in corruption scandal

Opposition urges Roh to reveal all in corruption scandal

SEOUL, Oct. 14 Kyodo

The head of South Korea’s main opposition party urged President Roh Moo Hyun on Tuesday to reveal everything about a corruption scandal surrounding one of his closest aides, before the president holds a national referendum on his leadership in mid-December.

Choe Byung Yul, chairman of the Grand National Party (GNP), made the call in a speech to the National Assembly.

”It is proper (for the president) to ask the nation for a reaffirmation of confidence — after the whole state of affairs is brought to light, even through the full probe is to be conducted by an independent counsel,” Choe said.

On Monday, in a speech to the assembly, Roh proposed a national vote of confidence in his leadership be taken around Dec. 15.

Roh’s proposal followed a surprise announcement Friday that he intends to seek reaffirmation of public trust in his ability as head of state because of the snowballing corruption scandal that has implicated one of his closest aides.

In Tuesday’s speech, the GNP leader accused the president of trying to use the referendum to escape the political crisis.

”President Roh’s remark about asking the nation to reaffirm trust in his presidency is a highly calculated scheme to overcome the political crisis by covering up his close aide’s irregularities,” Choe charged.

But recent opinion polls by various local media show Roh would overwhelmingly gain endorsement in any referendum.

Roh’s aide Choi Do Sul is to be questioned by prosecutors this week on allegations he received 1.1 billion won (about $950,000) from the SK Business Group, South Korea’s third largest conglomerate, shortly after Roh won the presidency last December.

Roh, who took office in February for a single five-year term, has seen his popularity rating nosedive to around 30% recently because of a string policy flip-flops and corruption scandals surrounding his aides, but his overall public support is expected to be enough to get through a referendum.

Still, Roh also faces a lack of support in the National Assembly because his ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) split when some lawmakers loyal to the president bolted the party and formed a new political group.

Roh then ended his own membership in the MDP last month, but the MDP remnants have said the MDP will now become a strong opposition party, further straining the leadership issue.

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