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Parliament passes arrest motion against opposition leader, dismissal motion against PM

By Yonhap

Published : Sept. 21, 2023 - 16:58

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Democratic Party lawmakers at the parliament on Thursday (Yonhap) Democratic Party lawmakers at the parliament on Thursday (Yonhap)

The National Assembly on Thursday passed a motion seeking parliamentary consent to the potential arrest of opposition leader Lee Jae-myung, while also passing another motion calling for the dismissal of Prime Minister Han Duck-soo.

In a 149-136 vote during a plenary session, the Assembly passed the motion to lift arrest immunity for Lee of the main opposition Democratic Party (Democratic Party), who faces breach of trust, bribery and other charges in connection with a scandal-ridden land development project and his alleged involvement in a company's illegal cash remittance to North Korea.

Six people abstained, while four votes were deemed invalid.

By law, sitting lawmakers are immune from arrest while parliament is in session and can be arrested only when the National Assembly consents to it. But the privilege came under criticism that it is abused to protect corrupt politicians.

Lee, who has been on a hunger strike for nearly three weeks in protest against government policies, had called for the motion's rejection, after earlier promising to give up the privilege of arrest immunity.

In February, the prosecution's attempt to detain Lee on allegations of corruption in two separate corruption cases fell through after parliamentary disapproval.

Separately the opposition-controlled parliament voted 175-116, with four abstentions, in favor of Han's dismissal. The Democratic Party submitted the dismissal motion to the parliament Monday, hours after the prosecution sought an arrest warrant for Lee, accusing the prime minister of serious incompetence as chief of the Cabinet and holding him responsible for President Yoon Suk Yeol's policies.

It was the first time a dismissal motion against a prime minister passed through the National Assembly.

Yoon is widely expected to reject it.

The Democratic Party has passed two dismissal motions since the launch of the Yoon administration -- one against Foreign Minister Park Jin and another against Interior Minister Lee Sang-min. Both were rejected by the president. (Yonhap)