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(LEAD) DP set on railroading dismissal motion for interior minister over Itaewon tragedy

Politics 17:13 December 07, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with ruling party's response)
By Lee Minji

SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Democratic Party decided Wednesday to continue to push for a motion calling for the dismissal of Interior Minister Lee Sang-min over the bungled government response to the Itaewon crowd crush and seek his impeachment if President Yoon Suk-yeol refuses to sack him.

The DP introduced the dismissal motion last week, but failed to take the next step of reporting it to a plenary session as Speaker Kim Jin-pyo refused to call the National Assembly into a meeting while urging the rival parties to seek compromise on the issue.

The ruling People Power Party (PPP) has strongly opposed the motion.

On Wednesday, the DP held a general meeting of lawmakers to determine the next course of action and decided to continue to push ahead with the dismissal motion first before pursing the minister's impeachment if Yoon rejects the motion.

"Lawmakers reached a consensus on pushing for the dismissal motion for Minister Lee," Rep. Lee Soo-jin told reporters. "Unless the president takes the dismissal motion seriously ... we will go as far as to introducing an impeachment motion."

Lee has been under opposition pressure to resign to take responsibility as minister in charge of people's safety in the wake of the crush that killed at least 158 Halloween partygoers in Seoul's Itaewon district on the night of Oct. 29.

The DP is expected to report the motion during a parliamentary plenary session scheduled for Thursday and handle it in a subsequent plenary session the following day.

The presidential office and the ruling party have bristled at the move, hinting at boycotting a parliamentary probe on the Itaewon crowd crush should the DP railroad the dismissal motion with its majority in parliament.

The PPP slammed the DP's decision on Wednesday, accusing the DP of causing political strife at a time when the deadline for passing next year's national budget is imminent.

Last week, the rival parties missed the legal deadline to pass the Yoon Suk-yeol administration's first budget plan for next year, leaving them until Friday to handle the annual budget proposal.

"With just two days left till the end of the National Assembly's regular session, the party is attempting to push parliament into an endless spiral of political strife," Rep. Park Jung-ha of the PPP said.

"Ultimately it's a mere scheme to win political hegemony by expanding political strife rather than a determination to clearly investigate and provide preventive measures on the Itaewon tragedy."

A no-confidence motion requires the consent of one-third of lawmakers to be put to a vote and the approval of one-half of lawmakers to be passed. It is, however, legally non-binding.

Rep. Lee Jae-myung (R), chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, and Rep. Park Hong-keun, floor leader, attend the party's general meeting of lawmakers at the National Assembly on Nov. 29, 2022. (Yonhap)

Rep. Lee Jae-myung (R), chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, and Rep. Park Hong-keun, floor leader, attend the party's general meeting of lawmakers at the National Assembly on Nov. 29, 2022. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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