Disasters & Accidents

South Korean parliament passes motion to remove interior minister

Seoul, Feb 8 (EFE).- South Korea’s parliament approved by a majority Wednesday to start the process to dismiss Interior Minister Lee Sang-min for his role after the stampede that caused 159 deaths in Seoul during the Halloween celebrations last year.

The motion to remove Lee was approved by 179 votes to 109, forcing him to leave office until the Constitutional Court decides whether or not to accept the initiative, for which he has a period of 180 days.

The main opposition bloc, the liberal Democratic Party, and two minor formations presented this motion earlier this week that holds Lee responsible for the negligent response of the authorities to the tragedy.

During the 2022 Halloween celebrations, the accumulation of hundreds of people in a narrow alley in the Itaewon neighborhood caused a crush that left 159 dead, most of them women between the ages of 20 and 30.

The party, which holds the majority in the chamber with 169 of the 300 seats, has strongly criticized the response given by the government of the conservative People’s Power Party, which only has 115 seats.

At a time when democratic Chairman Lee Jae-myung is under investigation for alleged corruption, seen by liberals as a government-orchestrated move, the motion to remove Lee is seen by some as political revenge.

The investigation carried out by the National Police Agency referred the prosecution for possible charges to police and emergency services officials or representatives of the Yongsan district, where the tragedy took place, but did not include anyone linked to the seoul council or the Interior Ministry, which the democrats criticized.

It is the first time the National Assembly has approved a motion to remove a member of the Cabinet, although the chamber has approved the removal of two presidents, the liberal Roh Moo-hyun in 2004 and the conservative Park Geun-hye in 2016.

The Constitutional Court rejected the motion to dismiss Roh but approved the removal of Park from office following her corruption plot.

The chances of the highest court approving Lee’s dismissal are unclear, as it must establish that the minister has clearly violated the legal framework while carrying out his duties. EFE


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