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  National
Impeachment
South Korean President Roh Impeached by Opposition-Controlled National Assembly
Roh Moo-hyun
Courtesy Ohmynews
In an unprecedented move South Korea's opposition-controlled National Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill to impeach President Roh Moo-hyun in spite of physical interference from fellow lawmakers of the ruling Uri Party on March 12, 2004. A total of 193 lawmakers in the 273-seat National Assembly voted in favor of impeachment, surpassing the necessary two-thirds vote. Only two lawmakers voted "no" to the impeachment.

The passage of the impeachment bill will make President Roh Moo-hyun Korea's first-ever head of state to be removed from office, depending upon the final rule of the Constitutional Court of Korea on the impeachment.

Roh's presidential powers were suspended immediately after the impeachment vote. Prime Minister Koh Gun will head the government until Constitutional Court decides whether to unseat the incumbent president or not within 180 days.

Six of the court's nine judges have to back the assembly's decision to make President Roh Moo-hyun the first-ever head of state to be removed from office or not.

The impeachment bill was submitted by opposition parties which accused Roh of violating election laws and of putting the country into economic and political crisis.

Recently, Roh has been under heavy pressure from the opposition parties to apologize for "his lack of leadership." The legislators threatened to impeach Roh unless he made an official apology to them.

In his effort to ease the pressure, Mr. Roh apologized through his aide on Friday for his part in the recent situations. But his apology was not satisfactory to his political opponents. They said it was too late. The GNP (Grand National Party), main opposition group, said it was shocked by the president's lack of sincerity.

National Assembly Speaker Park Kwan Yong is surrounded by Uri Party lawmakers on March 12, 2004.
Lawmakers of the pro-government Uri Party were staging a sit-in inside the National Assembly. They were blocking Park Kwan Yong, the speaker of the National Assembly from sitting in his chair to preside over the impeachment vote.

But at around 11 a.m. on March 12, the assembly speaker entered the main hall of Parliament escorted by opposition lawmakers and security guards. Both opposition lawmakers and security guards dragged pro-Roh parliamentarians of ruling but minor Uri Party from the floor of the assembly. The scenes were aired live on national television.

The local market reacted quickly. Share prices plunged over 20 percentage point in the afternoon trade on the day.

The GNP lawmaker Park Jin justified the impeachment decision by the parliament. He blamed Roh's illegal campaigning, financial scandals, and an "inability" to lead the nation.

Opposition parties, particularly the largest GNP, have been accusing Roh of involving himself in electioneering for the ruling Uri Party in April's upcoming parliamentary elections.

Members of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), the second largest opposition group joined GNP lawmakers in their impeachment vote. Roh made them angry last year when he left then ruling MDP party which backed his bid for presidency.

Lawmakers of another opposition party United Liberal Democrats (ULP) changed their position abruptly and joined forces in the impeachment motion. Earlier they announced that they would not support the impeachment bill.

Tens of thousands of Roh supporters are staging protests in Seoul streets against the passage of impeachment bill. Courtesy Yonhap
Security was beefed up around the National Assembly building as hundreds of Roh supporters rallied near the building. Another group of anti-Roh supporters raised their voices nearby. The accusations between pro- and anti-Roh groups continued on the internet.

At around 7:30 p.m. on March 11, 2004 an avid supporter of Mr. Roh set himself ablaze in front of the National Assembly to protest against the impeachment effort. He was in critical condition after putting a highly flammable paint thinner over his body.



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Related Articles     
    "We Have a Long Way to Go": LG Executive
    South Korea's Leader Roh Moo-hyun Reinstated
    "Vox Populi, That's the Constitution"
    "Big 3" Dailies Blamable for Roh's Impeachment
    The Roh Impeachment: American Perspective
    Impeachment Makes Korea Laughing Stock
    S. Korea Questions Direction of Latest Step
    President's Impeachment Stirs Angry Protests ...



 

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  Related Articles     
    "We Have a Long Way to Go": LG Executive
    South Korea's Leader Roh Moo-hyun Reinstated
    "Vox Populi, That's the Constitution"
    "Big 3" Dailies Blamable for Roh's Impeachment
    The Roh Impeachment: American Perspective
    Impeachment Makes Korea Laughing Stock
    S. Korea Questions Direction of Latest Step
    President's Impeachment Stirs Angry Protests ...



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