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Row over opposition candidate Kwon grows

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Published : 2014-07-22 21:29
Updated : 2014-07-22 22:01

The row over would-be lawmaker Kwon Eun-hee expanded Tuesday over the National Election Commission’s ruling that a Saenuri Party tweet concerning Kwon should be removed.

Kwon, a former police officer, is running for Gwangju’s Gwangsan-B constituency as a main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy candidate. 
Former police officer Kwon Eun-hee gives a speech. (Yonhap)

On Monday, the NEC found that a tweet by the Saenuri Party was in violation of Public Official Election Act clauses regarding slander.

The ruling party did not immediately respond to the NEC’s findings and the tweet remained online.

The ruling party had been attacking Kwon and the NPAD from the outset, claiming that Kwon’s nomination was tantamount to payment for her testimonies regarding former Seoul police chief Kim Yong-pan.

Earlier in the month, the ruling party posted similar claims on its official Twitter account. The tweet prompted the Gwangju election commission to post a response saying that the Saenuri Party’s tweet should be deleted immediately as it was slander and a publication of false facts under the Public Official Election Act.

Saying that the ruling party’s decision to keep the tweet online showed its disdain for the NEC and related laws, the NPAD called for the concerned Saenuri Party officials to be penalized.

“The NEC should conduct a thorough investigation and take stern measures against the Saenuri Party official who is ignoring the NEC,” NPAD spokeswoman Rep. Han Jeoung-ae said.

“The Saenuri Party must apologize to Kwon and the people, and reprimand those responsible.”

In 2013, Kwon claimed that Kim interfered with her investigation into the smear campaign, allegedly carried out by the National Intelligence Service, against the opposition presidential candidate. Kim, however, has been cleared of the charges in two separate courts. Criminal complaints that Kwon committed perjury have since been filed by right-wing civic groups.

Kwon has also been accused of instructing a witness to commit perjury while she was working as a lawyer in the early 2000s and of committing plagiarism in her master’s degree thesis.

The ruling party is also pressing its attack against Kwon, accusing her of making a false assets report to the election authorities and evading taxes. The developments have led a nongovernmental organization to file a complaint against Kwon to the NEC, accusing her of violating the election act, and another petition to the National Tax Service.

The Saenuri Party, for its part, is said to have adopted a new strategy in pressing the attack against Kwon, opting to bring about official investigations into Kwon rather than to have lawmakers raise allegations.

“The NEC should quickly launch an investigation. (The NEC) should be aware that delaying the investigation due to political considerations would damage the neutrality of elections,” a Saenuri Party deputy spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.

“(The Saenuri Party) will await swift and stringent investigations by the NEC, NTS and the prosecutors’ office.”

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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