KOREA - Calls are growing among the conservatives to have leftist lawmaker Rep. Lee Seok-ki expelled from the National Assembly and his Unified Progressive Party dissolved, as the authorities zero in on the alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government.
The ruling Saenuri Party is reportedly moving to submit a request to strip Lee off his lawmaker status with the Assembly's Ethics Committee.
The committee is separately slated to review Lee's qualification along with those of his colleague Rep. Kim Jae-yeon on Sept. 16 concerning their alleged political responsibility in the UPP's in-house vote rigging last year.
"We must quickly submit the disciplinary action (separate from the review) for this earth-shattering case of conspiracy to rebel," Saenuri Rep. Shim Jae-cheol said during the party meeting. The submission needs support from at least 30 lawmakers.
Lee is currently accused of forming an underground group known as the "Revolutionary Organisation" and devising with some 130 members in their covert May 12 meeting plans to destroy key infrastructure facilities in the South in the event of an inter-Korean war. He is also suspected of violating the National Security Act by praising or making comments in support of North Korea during meetings in March and August last year.
Just hours after the Assembly overwhelmingly voted on Wednesday to approve the prosecutors' request to arrest him, the National Intelligence Service detained him in an unusually speedy manner citing risk of flight. Lee appeared before the court the next morning for the review of his arrest.
As the probe quickly picked up pace, conservative groups upped their calls for the dissolution of the UPP.
A total of 10 associations of defectors from North Korea on Thursday jointly filed a complaint with the Justice Ministry to move for the break-up of the UPP.
"Before the expulsion of Lee Seok-ki as a lawmaker or his arrest, the UPP must first dissolve. It is the duty of the (justice) minister to disband the UPP that challenges the legal system for sake of normalizing the state," they said. Their demands for the UPP's demobilization have been filed several times since June 2004.
They cite Clause 4 of Article 8 of the Constitution that states if the purposes or activities of a political party contradict the fundamental democratic order, the government may bring an action in the Constitutional Court for its dissolution. No such action has been filed by the government.