Nominee for South Korean premier withdraws after graft accusations

August 29th, 2010 - 11:40 am ICT by IANS  

Seoul, Aug 29 (DPA) The man appointed as prime minister in South Korea withdrew Sunday amid corruption allegations and doubts about his qualifications for the post.
Kim Tae Ho, 47, a former governor of South Gyeongsang province, stepped aside three weeks after being named by President Lee Myung Bak, saying he did not want to be present a hurdle to Lee and Lee’s agenda.

“I think trust is the most important human virtue,” he said in announcing his withdrawal. “What can I do if I’m appointed to be prime minister without the trust from the people?”

Lee appointed Kim Aug 8 in a cabinet reshuffle aimed at giving the government a boost after the ruling conservative Grand National Party suffered a defeat in countrywide local elections in June.

The president made six other cabinet appointments in that reshuffle, and Sunday, two more of those nominees - for the ministries of knowledge economy and culture - also withdrew after being accused of ethical lapses.

Lee will not only have to select new nominees for the three posts, but the withdrawals were also likely to complicate his job as he begins the second half of his five-year term.

The largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, had demanded Kim’s resignation after he was criticized during his confirmation hearings before the National Assembly. He was accused of illegally obtaining a loan for his campaigns, evading taxes and lying about his contacts with a businessman accused of bribery.

Prosecutors had cleared Kim of corruption charges in December.

Kim was picked to replace Chung Un Chan, who resigned in July after 10 months as prime minister after the government suffered a defeat on a key legislative vote.

Kim was to play an important role in implementing reforms and communicating with young people.

Mid-term cabinet reshuffles are not unusual in South Korea, which has a presidential system, meaning the most important government decisions are made by Lee.

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