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S. Korea Ruling Party Warns Opposition

May 03, 1987|Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — President Chun Doo Hwan's party charged Saturday that a new opposition party is advocating "violent revolution" and said the government will not tolerate any attempt to undermine its decisions.

The Reunification Democratic Party, led by Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung, South Korea's two best-known dissidents, was formally inaugurated Friday. It vowed to fight for democracy and to revive parliamentary debate on a new constitution.

Lee Choon Ku, secretary general of Chun's governing Democratic Justice Party, said Saturday that the new party should not try to overturn a presidential decision to postpone debate on direct elections.

"We will not tolerate any attempts to distort the true intentions of the April 13 decision," Lee said.

Chun announced April 13 that he will keep through the summer of 1988 the present electoral college system, which opposition members say allows him to handpick his successor and perpetuates military dominance. Chun said that in the interest of national stability, he would postpone talks on a new electoral system until after the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Chun, who seized power after President Park Chung Hee was assassinated in 1979, repeatedly has promised to step down when his seven-year term ends next Feb. 24. Postponing any constitutional revision until after the 1988 Olympics means that his successor will be chosen indirectly under the current electoral college system.

The two Kims demand direct presidential elections to choose Chun's successor.

On Friday, Kim Young Sam, 59, said the new party would not accept voting under the current electoral college "for the same reason we do not recognize elections in North Korea as true elections."

He said the party will undertake a nationwide nonviolent campaign to protest the elections.

The Democratic Justice Party on Saturday released a statement challenging Kim's speech.

"Isn't it an attempt to seize power through a violent revolution that a party . . . pledges an overall rejection of the current government, including a boycott of elections?" the statement said.

The document harshly criticized Kim Young Sam's comparison of South Korea with North Korea, an authoritarian Communist state.

Saturday's Democratic Justice Party statement was released amid growing protest against Chun's announcement regarding the next election.

Education Minister Sohn Jae Suk told lawmakers from Chun's party on Saturday that 253 professors from six universities signed statements denouncing the postponement of constitutional debate.

Officials at the National Council of Churches said Saturday that at least 178 Roman Catholic priests and 23 Protestant ministers are conducting hunger strikes in Seoul and six other South Korean cities.

A week ago, 223 poets, novelists, literary critics and playwrights issued a statement demanding greater press freedom and resumption of constitutional debate.

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