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Lee office asks parties to recommend new special prosecutor candidates

President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday boycotted two special counsels recommended by parliament to re-investigate suspicions that taxpayer money was used to buy a plot of land where he had planned to build his retirement home.

Last year, Lee bought a land in southern Seoul for about 5.4 billion won with a plan to build his retirement home there when he leaves office in early 2013. He called off the plan after criticism arose that about 700 million won in taxpayer money had been illegally used to buy the land.

Prosecutors launched an investigation but closed the case earlier in the year, saying that they could not find any foul play.

As a bipartisan compromise, the National Assembly intervened, ordering a special counsel investigation.

Under agreement with the ruling Saenuri Party, the main opposition Democratic United Party was given the right to pick up two special counsel candidates for the president to choose one of them.

On Tuesday, the UPP recommended former judge Lee Kwang-bum and civil rights lawyer Kim Hyoung-tae as candidates for the special counsel investigation.

The ruling party voiced objection to the two opposition-recommended candidates, arguing that they may be pro-opposition. It accused the opposition party of violating a pre-set condition that the recommendation should be made after consultations between the two parties.

On Wednesday, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae asked the rival parties to consult again and recommend new candidates so that it can choose one of them before the legally set deadline, Friday.

"Saenuri agreed to allow the DUP to recommend the two candidates, but made clear such a move needed to go through a proper consultation process," the ruling party spokesman, Kim Gi-hyeon, said.

Korea Herald daum