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(2nd LD) Park officially appoints new police chief

All Headlines 17:02 August 24, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with Lee's remarks, opposition parties' response)

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye officially appointed her former social safety secretary, Lee Cheol-seong, to lead the National Police Agency (NPA) on Wednesday, amid continued objections from opposition parties that call him unfit for the post due to his ethical lapses.

During his inauguration speech, Lee pledged to pursue the image of "warm-hearted, trustworthy" police and concentrate on securing public safety and social order, and thereby enhancing the public trust.

"The first thing we need to do is to actively seek solutions to issues facing citizens," he said during the inauguration ceremony. "I call upon you to focus all capabilities to enhancing the safety of citizens."

Lee replaced Kang Sin-myeong, whose two-year term ended Tuesday.

Lee served as Park's secretary between September 2014 and December last year. Since December, he had served as the deputy NPA commissioner general.

His inauguration came after opposition lawmakers refused to adopt a parliamentary confirmation report on him due in large part to his 1993 record of drunk driving.

On Tuesday, Park requested for a second time that the National Assembly adopt the confirmation report. Since the legislature refused to respond to the request, Park appointed her nominee without parliamentary consent in accordance with due legal procedure.

Dismissing the opposition parties' objections, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has said that Lee has repeatedly expressed his contrition for his drunk driving offense, and that he was pardoned for it in 1995.

Opposition parties decried Park's appointment of Lee, calling it an "affront to citizens and the National Assembly."

"It is regrettable that (the president) pressed ahead with the appointment, which citizens think is inappropriate," Lee Yong-ho, spokesman for the minor opposition People's Party, told reporters.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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