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DP circles wagons over Moon’s nominations

June 20,2017
The ruling Democratic Party went on full defense of the Moon Jae-in government Monday in the wake of justice minister nominee Ahn Kyong-whan’s withdrawal from consideration last Friday amid allegations that he and other cabinet appointees are “against the national interest.”

During a party meeting at the National Assembly, DP Chairwoman Choo Mi-ae called the opposition’s criticism of Moon’s appointments “wrong-headed.”

Choo added that the opposition’s continuing criticism of Ahn, who became the first ministerial nominee of the Moon government to bow out, and their demands that Cho Kuk, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, step down to take responsibility, are attempts to thwart the government’s efforts from reforming the prosecutorial body.

“It appears that senior civil secretary Cho became the next target of attack after nominee Ahn, who championed for controlling the prosecution in a democratic way and making the Justice Ministry independent from the prosecution, withdrew himself,” noted DP Rep. Kim Young-joo. “The opposition’s demand for Cho’s resignation is over the line.”

The ruling party’s criticism of the opposition, especially the largest opposition Liberty Korea Party, came after President Moon pushed ahead with the appointment of Kang Kyung-wha as foreign minister on Sunday, despite the opposition’s objection.

The Liberty Korea Party has been on the forefront of opposition to Kang, warning that it would boycott confirmation hearings for other ministerial nominees as well as oppose the government’s policy agendas that require parliamentary consent, especially its supplementary budget bill worth 11.2 trillion won ($10 billion), which is aimed to create jobs.

While the LKP has not officially said that it will oppose the supplementary bill during the June extraordinary session, which wraps up on June 27, the party’s acting chief, Chung Woo-taik, said on Sunday the prospect of bipartisan legislative cooperation had become “extremely difficult” as a result of Moon appointing Kang.

The LKP and two other opposition parties continued to express their displeasure over Moon’s decision for Kang on Sunday. The LKP decided to boycott all parliamentary standing committee meetings from Monday, though it did not say how long its boycott would last.

“We heard many opinions (from party members) that we need to have a cooling-off period in the wake of Moon’s appointment of this minister, who does not deserve it,” said Chung at the National Assembly. While the People’s Party opted not to join in the LKP’s boycott, it demanded Moon issue an apology for appointing Kang. In protest, the three opposition parties boycotted a parliamentary transportation committee meeting on Monday at which they were scheduled to decide whether to adopt a report on the outcome of the confirmation hearing for Kim Hyun-mee, a transportation minister nominee.

While the opposition parties are up in arms over Kang, Moon saw a 3.3 percentage drop in his approval rating from a week ago, though as of Monday, Moon posted 75.6 percent approval, according to pollster Realmeter. The poll surveyed 47,207 adults nationwide form Monday through Friday last week.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinyku@joongang.co.kr]