Ban Ki-moon Proposes Constitutional Changes to Remove 'Emperor'-like Government Powers

Ban Ki-moon Proposes Constitutional Changes to Remove 'Emperor'-like Government Powers

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday proposed establishing a consultative body on a constitutional revision in an apparent move to rally political forces behind him based on the highly polarizing issue of rewriting the decades-old basic law.

   During a hastily arranged press conference, Ban, a prominent presidential aspirant, called for crafting a new government framework -- marked by the "diffusion of power and cooperative governance" -- through a revision before the presidential election later this year.

   The former foreign minister also lambasted those opposing a pre-election amendment of the 1987 Constitution, apparently referring to his rival Moon Jae-in, a former leader of the main opposition Democratic Party.

   "Now, we have to break away from the old framework -- a winner-takes-all system under which a winner wields imperial-like powers," Ban said. "We have to create a new institutional framework that enables the diffusion of power and cooperative governance."

 Ban, then, called on politicians from all sides who support of the proposal to join him.

   "I propose forming a consultative body on the revision with the representatives of all political parties and factions, and pushing for a revision before the election with the body playing a central role," he said.

   Speculation has abounded that Ban will seek to have politicians in favor of the revision coalesce behind him.

   Moon has remained reluctant to immediately push for the constitutional change, as it could undermine his front-runner position by aligning his rivals, mostly conservatives, together and diverting public attention from the corruption scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye.

   Moon has expressed his desire for a revision after the election.

   Ban railed against the opponents, saying they have no determination for the amendment.

   "A prominent potential presidential contender of the Democratic Party is against the revision before the election due to a lack of time, but that is just an excuse and that is nothing but (his admission to) having no determination," he said.

   "Under the cover of his call for a change of government, (he) must not conceal his ambition for (political) hegemony anymore," he added.

   Some opposition politicians dismissed Ban's proposal as a political maneuver to regroup politicians for his presidential bid.

   They, in particular, expressed skepticism over his call to create another body when the legislature currently runs a special panel on the revision.

   "(We) are not interested regrouping political circles in such a way that is far removed from the people's wishes," Democratic Party Rep. Kim Kyoung-soo, an aide to Moon, told Yonhap News Agency over the phone.

   The debate over the revision centers on rebalancing the power that is now concentrated in a single national leader, a point over which many politicians from the ruling and opposition parties alike concur.

   The 1987 amendment was aimed at limiting authoritarian rulers from prolonging their presidency by restricting a president to a single five-year term in office. But many agree such restrictions are outdated in South Korea's democracy.

   Yet, politicians and citizens alike have differed over how to reshape the overall power structure, with public opinion diverging on this crucial issue as well.

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