Ruling party to hold vote of confidence in embattled floor leader
The ruling Saenuri Party will hold a meeting of all its lawmakers on Friday, a party spokesman said, in an apparent move to decide the fate of its floor leader.
Rep. Lee Hahn-koo offered to quit on Wednesday as floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party over the parliament's rejection of an arrest motion for a ruling party lawmaker suspected of bribery. Other ruling party lawmakers in floor leadership positions also offered to resign.
The parliamentary veto on Rep. Chung Doo-un's arrest called into question the ruling party's commitment to give up privileges granted to lawmakers, including immunity from arrest. Chung is suspected to have received kickbacks from the head of a troubled savings bank in 2007.
Korea introduced immunity from arrest to protect opposition lawmakers from military-backed governments in the past, but the privilege often came under public fire as some legislators abused the clause to make unfounded allegations or to evade arrest.
Separately, the National Assembly approved a similar arrest motion on Wednesday for an independent lawmaker convicted of illegal electioneering.
The ruling party will hold a meeting of all its 149 lawmakers on Friday, party spokesman Kim Young-woo said after an emergency meeting of top party officials late on Wednesday.
The ruling party appears likely to decide whether to give the floor leader a vote of confidence at the meeting.
Park Geun-hye, the ruling party's leading presidential hopeful, has lent her support to the embattled floor leader, saying it was not an issue over which the floor leader should resign, according to party officials.
On Wednesday, the ruling party's top officials also questioned whether the floor leader should be held accountable for the parliamentary rejection, stating some opposition lawmakers also voted against the motion.
In South Korea, courts need to get parliamentary approval to jail a lawmaker while the National Assembly is in session.
Meanwhile, the top party officials have recommended that Chung voluntarily appear before a court so it can decide whether to issue an arrest warrant. (Yonhap)