Rival political parties called for strict political neutrality from public officials on Monday following allegations that a presidential secretary intervened in nominations for upcoming local elections.
The calls come after Lim Jong-hoon, the presidential secretary for civil petitions, resigned Saturday over allegations that he interviewed more than a dozen councilor hopefuls from an electoral district in his hometown of Suwon, just south of Seoul, last month.
Based on the interviews, Lim excluded some of the hopefuls from a list of potential candidates for local councilors in the June 4 elections, according to news reports.
The nationwide elections for mayors, governors, councilors and education superintendents are seen as a confidence vote on the government of President Park Geun-hye, which marked its one-year anniversary last month.
Both the ruling Saenuri and main opposition Democratic parties expressed serious concern over the allegations.
“All public officials should strive for strict neutrality in the elections,” ruling party chief Hwang Woo-yea said at a meeting of the party’s Supreme Council. “The central government should thoroughly direct and supervise against gaps and weaknesses in local governments and take stern action against election interference and deviant behavior by public officials.”
Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil demanded a prosecution investigation into the case, saying the ruling party should also set up a fact-finding team to look into possible pre-nominations in all electoral districts.
“If it’s true that a presidential secretary intervened in the nominations in Suwon and effectively completed all of the nominations, could this be the only region where this took place?” Kim asked at a DP Supreme Council meeting. (Yonhap)