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Government Candidate Leads in S. Korea Vote

December 16, 1987|Times Wire Services

SEOUL, South Korea — Government candidate Roh Tae Woo rolled toward victory today in the first direct presidential election in 16 years, and the administration warned opponents not to challenge the outcome.

The opposition alleged massive fraud.

With 40% of the vote counted, Roh, a former army general, was leading with 41%, the National Election Commission said. Opposition candidate Kim Young Sam trailed with 26.6%, followed by rival opposition candidates Kim Dae Jung with 24.2% and Kim Jong Pil with 8.2%.

"I am really grateful that the people have done their best in opening a new chapter in the history of our democracy," Roh said.

'Era of Reconciliation'

Roh appealed to Koreans to accept the outcome. "We must begin an era of reconciliation," he said.

Police said no protests will be tolerated after the opposition charged the governing Democratic Justice Party used massive vote fraud to win the election. National Police Headquarters in Seoul said any demonstrations would be broken up.

There were no big demonstrations in Seoul this evening after a clear cold day with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark.

But students and dissidents are expected to call for massive protests against Roh. For weeks before the vote, the opposition had claimed that the government could not win an honest election and predicted chaos if Roh was declared the winner.

Army on Combat Alert

All police and military units remained on top alert across the country to deal with possible protests. About 77,000 riot police guarded polling and vote-counting stations, and the army was on combat alert.

Squads of riot police in green fatigues stood guard at key government buildings and major intersections in Seoul and other cities in case of demonstrations.

The only serious violence erupted in the southwestern city of Kwangju, where hundreds of people screaming that the government was stealing the elections battled riot police, who fired tear gas. The city is Kim Dae Jung's main political stronghold.

"Fair elections!" the crowds yelled as they hurled rocks.

Almost 90% of the country's 26 million eligible voters cast ballots.

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