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(LEAD) Park asks people to cast ballots for new parliament

All News 15:15 April 12, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments by Park)

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye encouraged people on Tuesday to cast their ballots this week to ensure that the new parliament can serve the people and do its job.

"A new National Assembly should be born," Park said in a Cabinet meeting, adding the new parliament should devote itself to stabilizing the people's livelihoods and revitalizing the national economy.

The chief executive's comments came a day before South Koreans go to polls to elect new lawmakers.

Park has repeatedly accused the outgoing National Assembly of failing to pass a series of bills meant to help revive the economy.

The elections come amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea's nuclear test and long-range rocket launch earlier this year.

North Korea has threatened to turn South Korea's presidential office into "a sea of flames and ashes" as it fired a series of missiles in apparent anger over Seoul's ongoing military drills with Washington and the U.N. sanctions.

The U.N. Security Council has slapped North Korea with the toughest-ever sanctions resolution to punish the communist country for its fourth nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch.

North Korea also has jammed GPS signals in South Korea, a disruption that could cause mobile phones to malfunction and affect planes and ships that rely on the satellite signal for navigation. Still, no damage has been reported.

Park said the North's provocations are designed to cause internal friction and division in South Korea over how to deal with North Korea.

Park asked the relevant ministries to ensure that the elections can be held in a transparent and fair manner.

She also called on people to join forces with the government to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its provocations.

"We should sternly deal with any North Korean attempt to stage a provocation and divide South Korea by closely working with the international community," Park said.

The president also asked officials to ensure that China will continue to play a constructive role over North Korea, citing Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent pledge to fully enforce the U.N. resolution on North Korea.

Park met with Xi in Washington earlier this month on the margins of a summit on nuclear security and Xi made the pledge after Park called for the faithful enforcement of the resolution to make North Korea change its behavior.


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