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South Korea president appeals election law violation ruling to top court

[JURIST] South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun [BBC profile] filed a petition at the Constitutional Court of South Korea [official website, in Korean] Thursday, challenging a ruling by the National Election Commission [official website, in Korean] that Roh violated election neutrality laws for the second time in a month by repeating criticism of the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) [official website, in Korean]. Presidential spokesperson Cheon Ho-Seon said that Roh should not be restricted by election neutrality laws because Roh was an elected official and not a career civil servant. Current South Korean election laws require government officials to maintain neutrality before national elections. Cheon also said that election laws should not restrict the freedom of expression, restrictions which Cheon says are unfair because Roh is prohibited from responding to direct criticism by the opposition. The top court has 30 days to decide whether it will hear the petition, and 150 days following its decision to make a ruling.

Roh has called for reforms to the election laws [JURIST report] and has also campaigned for South Korea to allow presidents to seek multiple terms. Current law limits presidents to a single five-year term. Roh was impeached in March 2004 by the National Assembly of South Korea for violating election neutrality laws. In May 2004, the Constitutional Court reinstated Roh [JURIST report] despite finding Roh to have violated the law, ruling that the violation was insufficient to warrant impeachment. South Korea's next presidential election is slated for December 19, 2007. AFP has more.

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