President of South Korea fills vacant Cabinet posts despite opposition criticism

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun confirmed on Friday five earlier-announced Cabinet appointments despite objections by the opposition party, filling key ministerial posts that have been vacant for more than a month, his office said.

Roh's confirmation came a day after the National Assembly submitted its recommendations on the ministers-designate a newly required step under reforms that came into effect this year.

The main opposition Grand National Party said Thursday that all five appointees were unfit, and urged Roh to cancel the appointments of at least three of them, including unification minister nominee Lee Jong-seok. Lee is unpopular among conservatives, who accuse him of being too sympathetic to North Korea .

However, under the new confirmation system, the National Assembly has no power to veto the president's nominations.

Roh also confirmed former presidential chief of staff Kim Woo-sik as science minister; Chung Sye-kyun, the ruling party's floor leader, as minister of commerce, industry and energy; former ruling party legislator Lee Sang-soo as labor minister; and ruling party lawmaker Rhyu Si-min as health minister.

Late last year, the unification and health ministers resigned to run in a ruling party election to select a new chairman who will lead the party through nationwide mayoral and gubernatorial elections in May.

Friday's appointments also included a new national police chief, a post which had been vacant since Huh Joon-young resigned over a police crackdown on an anti-globalization rally that resulted in the deaths of two farmers, reports the AP.


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