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Pres. candidates urge special counsel to probe land scandal
OCTOBER 05, 2012 05:30  
The political arena evolving around the upcoming presidential election has suddenly been embroiled over a proposed special counsel to re-investigate the suspicion that tax money was misused to buy a plot of land to build President Lee Myung-bak`s retirement home.

The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday urged political parties to rediscuss the recommendation of two candidates for the post.

Two of the three candidates criticized the president for violating a law on the special counsel. Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party said Thursday that he hoped the president would not violate the special counsel law or commit dereliction of duty by failing to appoint a special counsel by Friday, according to Moon뭩 spokesman.

In an answer to a reporter뭩 question, independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, who had been reluctant to comment on political issues, urged the president to follow the National Assembly, which passed the special counsel law.

The ruling and opposition parties also clashed over the matter. The ruling Saenuri Party criticized its main opposition rival for making 뱎olitically motivated recommendations of special counsel candidates with an eye to the December presidential election. The Democratic United Party pressed the president to appoint a candidate by Friday.

Ruling party chairman Hwang Woo-yea said in a supreme council meeting that a special counsel should be appointed 뱓hrough a fair and strict process after smooth consultations between the ruling and opposition parties. Party floor leader Lee Han-koo blamed the main opposition party as "solely responsible" for unilaterally recommending candidates, demanding an apology for its 뱔nilateral candidate recommendation.

Park Jie-won, floor leader of the Democratic United Party, told a meeting of senior party members that the ruling party first proposed the special counsel and agreed to let the opposition party recommend candidates. Lee Yong-sup, head of the opposition party뭩 policy committee, said the presidential office rejected his party`s candidate recommendations because they were critical of the incumbent administration.

The presidential office, which sent the ball to the National Assembly Wednesday, gave no official response to the issue while watching the situation in the political arena. President Lee also thought of whether to choose one of the two candidates recommended by the main opposition party as special counsel or risk violating the law to raise issue with the Democratic United Party-led situation. A key presidential aide said it was up to the chief executive to make the final decision.

Certain observers, however, cautiously expect the president to consider appointing a less unfavorable candidate because it would be difficult to refuse naming a special counsel on the grounds that the recommendation was not made through an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties.

Another presidential official said certain ruling party lawmakers were unconvinced of the president뭩 apparent rejection of the candidates due to lack of consultations between parties.

Reflecting such an atmosphere, former ruling party chief Hong Joon-pyo said on a radio talk show, 밒t was wrong for Cheong Wa Dae to reject a special counsel due to a procedural issue. Had the president done nothing wrong about the issue, he should have vetoed the special counsel bill.

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