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Former Seoul Mayor Wins South Korean Presidency


South Korean officials are confirming an election result that has been expected for weeks. Former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak has apparently won the presidency by about half of the popular vote. VOA's Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.

With more than 90 percent of the popular vote tallied late Wednesday night, South Korean election officials said former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak has about 48 percent of the day's votes.

Campaign officials at the headquarters of Lee Myung-bak's Grand National Party erupted into cheers earlier Wednesday, as national news networks forecasted his landslide victory.

Outgoing President Roh Moo-hyun phoned Lee with a congratulatory message soon after the election's results became clear.

Mr. Lee, a former Seoul mayor and corporate chairman, has promised to cut taxes, double per capita income, and boost South Korea's growth rate from the current four percent to seven percent. He has also said he will take a more "businesslike" approach toward South Korean aid and investment in North Korea.

Lee told supporters at his party's headquarters he would serve the Korean people humbly, and follow their strongest wish: to revive the country's economic from what he describes as a state of turmoil.

That economically focused message has proven extremely popular among South Koreans, who blame outgoing President Roh Moo-hyun for stalling growth and business activity. Average voters say supporting Lee is all about improving economic opportunity.

Ji Seung-yong, a taxi driver in his 40s, says he supported Lee because he saw "no other option" for reviving the economy.

Lee's closest challenger, United New Democrat Party candidate Chung Dong-young, received about 27 percent of the popular vote. Independent candidate Lee Hoi-chang garnered about 15 percent.

Lee's double-digit poll leads have persevered through months of allegations he once engaged in fraud and stock manipulation. South Korean prosecutors cleared him last week of formal charges, but lawmakers approved an independent counsel investigation of the matter this week.

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