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Opposition leader urges party to unite against prosecution probe

SEOUL– Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung called on his Democratic Party (DP) and supporters Wednesday to fight together against the prosecution’s investigation of him, denouncing the probe as a politically motivated attempt to remove him.

Lee made the remarks at a speech to the public at a market in the southwestern city of Gwangju, known as the DP’s traditional support base, after the prosecution summoned him to appear for questioning over allegations of third-party bribery surrounding corporate donations to a football club years ago.

Lee was asked to appear for questioning on Wednesday but rejected the request, citing previous engagements and a parliamentary plenary session. Lee, however, said he will arrange another date to respond to the request.

“Will the killing of Lee Jae-myung cover up their incompetence and irresponsibility?” Lee said, claiming that South Korea’s “democracy built with the blood and lives of many people over a long period of time is collapsing.”

“Don’t protect Lee Jae-myung. Protect the country, protect democracy and protect yourselves, your neighbors and your families. We have to fight together,” the DP leader said. “The DP is one. In unity, we will strive toward the future.”

Prosecutors suspect that Lee, who served as the mayor of Seongnam, just south of Seoul, is linked to allegations that the city government attracted some 16 billion won (US$1.3 million) in corporate donations to its municipal football club in return for administrative favors between 2016 and 2018.
“The power given should be only used for the people in a fair and just way,” Lee said, accusing the Yoon Suk Yeol administration of being focused on looking for people to punish instead of “making a good world for everyone.”

Lee slammed the government’s response to the recent infiltration of North Korean drones in South Korean airspace earlier this week, calling it an example of a “very feeble and incompetent” defense security posture.

On the prosecution summons, Lee’s aides said they have entered talks with the prosecution on arranging another date for the questioning.

An aide claimed that the prosecution deliberately asked Lee to appear for questioning on the date of his scheduled Gwangju visit, adding it will be unlikely for him to appear for questioning this year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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