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Moon administration considering phased revision of Constitution

All Headlines 15:25 April 08, 2018

SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Moon Jae-in administration is reportedly considering a phased revision of the Constitution that may push back additional amendments to 2020, an official with the presidential office said Sunday.

The government is currently seeking to put its own bill on a constitutional revision to a national vote alongside the local elections slated for June 13. The key part of the government proposal seeks to remove the limit on the presidency to a single five-year term to allow one consecutive re-election for a four-year term.

An official at Cheong Wa Dae said if there's no cross-party agreement on the amendment, conflicting issues can be left behind this time and could be dealt with later in the next local elections.

"If we don't see agreements on a power structure in the revision talks this time, the National Assembly can have further discussions and handle that later," an official with Cheong Wa Dae said on condition of anonymity. "For instance, some parts that the sides failed to reach an agreement on this year can be dealt with later."

This suggests that the government may first push the revision of the Constitution with things that have been approved by all sides at the National Assembly and start a second revision of the Constitution in the next local elections set for 2020.

This image created by Yonhap News TV shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (Yonhap)

The official said the government may drop the revision of the power restructure that includes changing presidential term limits from the bill in order to make the national vote take place at the June 13 elections.

"If parties have a big difference on curtailing the power structure, such a section can be left out from this revision," the source said.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party has been insisting on a power-sharing government model under which the president takes control of security, diplomacy and other external affairs, while the prime minister, picked by the parliament, leads internal affairs.

The official said if there's no cross-party agreement on clauses that pursue adopting new fundamental rights and strengthening regional autonomy, such sections can be dropped from the government bill.

"If we see a big discrepancy on fundamental rights and regional autonomy, we can also drop related clauses," the official said. "For instance, if the opposition parties claim that including the right to life in the Constitution directly relates to the abolition of capital punishment, we can delete if from the bill."

Local pundits expect that such movement from the government aims to accelerate constitutional revision talks.

When proposing a constitutional revision bill on March 26, Moon emphasized that he needs to keep a promise with South Korean people, saying all candidates during their presidential campaign pledged to push for a vote on the constitutional amendment in the June 13 elections.

Meanwhile, a Cheong Wa Dae official said Moon can deliver a parliamentary speech on the revision next week.

"Ever since the National Assembly said it will have constitutional revision talks, we've been closely following the matter," the official said. "Since the law on national referendums needs to be revised by April 23, Moon can perhaps deliver his speech before that week."

The revision to the law on national referendums is considered necessary to have the constitutional amendment be voted on simultaneously with the upcoming local elections.

The law on national referendums was ruled unconstitutional in 2014 for limiting the suffrage of citizens overseas. The rival parties had until the end of 2016 to modify the part that was ruled unconstitutional but failed to do so, leaving the entire law void to date.


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