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Kim names ex-top court judge as prime minister-designate.

SEOUL, Sept. 10 Kyodo

President Kim Dae Jung named former Supreme Court Justice Kim Suk Soo as prime minister-designate on Tuesday, following the opposition-controlled parliament's rejection of his previous two choices for the nation's No. 2 post.

''The president believes prime minister-designate Kim Suk Soo would further maintain the cabinet's political neutrality in managing the presidential election in a fair manner and helping President Kim's government finish its duties successfully,'' the president's Chief of Staff Park Jie Won said.

Kim Suk Soo, 70, was a Supreme Court justice from 1991 to 1997 and also was chairman of the National Election Commission from 1993 to 1997.

Park also said Kim expects the new premier-designate to use his administrative experience to lead the cabinet.

Kim Suk Soo is to formally become prime minister after obtaining parliamentary endorsement.

The rejection of two premier-designates by the National Assembly in July and August dealt a major blow to Kim Dae Jung's leadership ahead of the presidential election in December.

On July 31, parliament rejected Kim's first choice for the prime minister's post, Chang Sang, a theologian and president of a women's university in Seoul, who would have been the nation's first female prime minister.

Lawmakers from the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) took issue with her alleged speculative land dealings, her son's U.S. citizenship and suspected lying about her education.

On Aug. 28, parliament also rejected the president's second choice for prime minister, Chang Dae Whan, a top business newspaper executive. In the hearings, the lawmakers raised questions mainly about Chang's alleged tax evasion.

The Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) founded by Kim suffered a humiliating defeat in key by-elections in August, which gave the GNP parliamentary majority.

His popularity has nose-dived due mainly to a series of corruption scandals that resulted in the arrests of the president's key aides, senior officials and even two sons.

South Korea will elect a successor to Kim on Dec. 19. His five-year single-term expires in February 2003.

Recent opinion polls showed Lee Hoi Chang, presidential candidate from the GNP is leading over Roh Moo Hyun, candidate from the MDP.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Sep 16, 2002
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