Nat’l Assembly to vote on motion to impeach interior minister over Itaewon tragedy

SEOUL– The National Assembly will vote Wednesday on the motion to impeach the interior minister over the government’s alleged bungled response to the Itaewon crowd crush, Speaker Kim Jin-pyo said.

Kim told reporters that a vote will take place after an interpellation session later in the day.

The motion was co-introduced by the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), the minor progressive Justice Party and the Basic Income Party on Monday to hold Interior Minister Lee Sang-min to account over the government response to the Oct. 29 tragedy that killed 159 people.

If the motion is put to a vote, it is sure to pass as the DP holds a majority of seats in parliament. The impeachment motion requires the consent of one-third of National Assembly members to be tabled and half of lawmakers to be approved.

The assembly is required to vote on the motion by Thursday. Otherwise, the motion would be scrapped.

The PPP has decried the motion, claiming the requirements for impeachment have not been met as the interior minister has not violated the law.

The PPP plans to hold a general meeting of its lawmakers before a plenary session takes place and decide how to respond if the impeachment motion is passed.

Compared with a dismissal motion, an impeachment requires more concrete proof that the official in question has violated the Constitution or law in serving his or her role. Once it is passed by parliament, the case is referred to the Constitutional Court for the final decision.

After wrapping up an investigation last month, police decided not to hold any officials from the interior ministry, the Seoul city government or the national police agency accountable for the deadly accident, concluding those bodies are not legally responsible for crowd control duties.

Should the motion pass, it will make Lee the first Cabinet minister ever to be impeached by the National Assembly, and he will be immediately suspended from duties until the Constitutional Court makes a final decision on whether to endorse the impeachment.

“The impeachment motion is the first step to correct the senselessness and the irresponsibility of the administration of President Yoon Suk Yeol that shows no remorse for the deadly disaster,” DP leader Lee Jae-myung said in a party meeting, vowing to pass the motion Wednesday.

Lee called on the president to apologize to the people and the bereaved families of the victims, denouncing Yoon for keeping the interior minister in his position.

DP floor leader Park Hong-geun said there are enough reasons to impeach the interior minister, including his failure to fulfill his duty to protect people from disaster and harm under the Constitution.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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