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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 00:32 GMT 01:32 UK
S Korea's Uri Party wins election
President Roh Moo-hyun and his wife Kwon Yang-sook cast their votes
The Uri Party is made up of supporters of the president (right)
South Korea's liberal Uri Party has won a large majority in the country's parliamentary elections.

Local media said that with 99% of votes counted Uri was set to win 152 seats, giving it a slim majority in the 299-seat National Assembly.

The vote, in which turnout was up 2.7 percentage points, is seen as a popular verdict on the 12 March impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun.

Mr Roh backs Uri and said he would resign if it fared poorly.

The BBC's correspondent in Seoul, Charles Scanlon, says the results indicate a major endorsement for President Roh.

Mr Roh has been in political limbo since the opposition-dominated legislature voted to impeach him last month.

His powers have been suspended until the Constitutional Court rules, by mid-September, on whether to uphold that vote.

Mr Roh is not a member of the Uri Party, but it is made up of reformist legislators loyal to him.

ELECTION FACTS
Polling boxes are set up for South Korean election
299 seats
243 elected by constituency
56 elected by proportional representation
1,170 candidates

In contrast to the fortunes of the Uri party, the GNP, which has controlled the legislature since it was formed in 1997, appears to have suffered a big set-back and is set to take just 121 seats.

But our correspondent says the GNP seems to have staved off disaster, due in part to its popular new leader, Park Keun-hye, daughter of former hard-line President Park Chung-hee.

One of the reasons for the Uri Party's success is thought to be a public backlash over Mr Roh's impeachment on 12 March.

Analysts say the charges against Mr Roh were relatively minor, and the stand-off had more to do with jockeying for power ahead of the elections.

The main charge against Mr Roh was that he violated his neutrality as president by publicly supporting the Uri Party, which was formed last October.

IMPEACHMENT BILL'S CHARGES:
Roh "breached election rules" by calling for support for Uri party
Aides "involved in corruption scandals"
Economy's poor growth
He was also dogged by allegations that his closest aides and family members took up to $10m in illegal election funds, although opposition aides are accused of having taken even more money.

Mr Roh came to power promising a foreign policy which is more independent of the US, including continuing the South's flexible approach to North Korea.

During his first year in office he has agreed to co-operate with Washington's hard line on North Korea, and to send troops to Iraq, but if he returns to power he will be in a much stronger position to push through his liberal agenda.

US Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Seoul as the elections were being held.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Charles Scanlon reports from Seoul
"Koreans have voted for stability"



SEE ALSO:
Poll buoys S Korea economic hopes
16 Apr 04  |  Business
S Korean president comes out on top
15 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
S Korea's class conflict sparks fury
13 Mar 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Roh Moo-hyun
24 Feb 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: South Korea
24 May 03  |  Country profiles


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