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S. Korean Parliament Overrides Presidential Veto - 2003-12-04

For the first time in 49 years, South Korea's Parliament has overridden a presidential veto - clearing the way for a corruption investigation of former presidential aides. South Korea's main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) joined with two other parties for the two-thirds majority needed to override the presidential veto Thursday.

Last month Parliament passed a bill for an independent probe of political fundraising scandals linked to three former aides of President Roh Moo-hyun. But Mr. Roh vetoed the legislation, saying it was premature to appoint an independent counsel while state prosecutors were still investigating. But GNP lawmakers did not believe state prosecutors would be impartial, and brought the legislature to a standstill with a boycott. They returned to Parliament Thursday after they had secured enough votes to override the veto.

The president will now be forced to choose one of two special counsel candidates nominated by the national Bar Association. The independent probe is expected to begin as early as next month.

The counsel's term will be for two months and can only be extended once for an additional month.

In the meantime, the South Korean Parliament has more than 1,200 pieces of legislation to consider before Tuesday - including next year's government budget bill and President's Roh's commitment to dispatch troops to help the United States in Iraq.