President Park Geun-hye vowed Tuesday to take stern measures against anyone caught tampering with the nationwide local elections in June, saying the polls should be conducted in a fair and clean manner.
Park made the remarks during a Cabinet meeting at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae shortly after registration began for preliminary candidates in the June 4 mayoral and gubernatorial elections.
"This year's local elections are the first elections to be held under this government," Park said. "They will have to be fair and clean elections."
Park took office last February after winning the December 2012 presidential election. In her first year in office, however, she was constantly plagued by accusations from opposition parties and left-leaning groups that government bodies, including the state
intelligence agency, helped her win the election by conducting an online smear campaign against the then opposition candidate, Moon Jae-in.
Park has repeatedly denied any link to the scandal, and rejected opposition demands that she apologize and allow a special independent probe into the alleged wrongdoing.
"Not only state organizations, but also civil servant groups and individual civil servants should strictly maintain political neutrality, and I ask you to make sure that public officials at each ministry and local government do not engage in acts that damage the elections' neutrality," she said.
In the event that such an incident occurs, Park stressed that she will "never tolerate it and take stern action." (Yonhap News)