SEOUL, South Korea -- The government today made public a draft of its constitutional which, if approved in a late October national referendum, will permit President Chun Doo-hwan to stay in power for the next seven years.
Chun, as legal proposer of the constitutional draft, released its text after it had been approved by his cabinet.
The proposed constitution was drafted by a 69-member government committee controlled by Chun _ the soldier turned president _ and basically adopts a presidential system with powers divided among the executive, parliamentary and judiciary branches.
Although still calling for indirect election of the president, the draft constitution curtails some of the powers vested in the presidency under the previous 'Yushin' constitution adopted by former presidential strongman Park Chung-hee.
The South Korean people will vote on the constitutional draft in a national referendum expected to be held Oct. 22. Observers in Seoul point out that in the present highly controlled political environment, the proposed constitution will be approved by an overwhelming vote.
Hailing the proposed constitution as 'the guiding principles for the new era to answer the challenge of national history,' Chun said in a special statement the new constitution will be best suited to the political reality in South Korea.
Chun said the new constiution prescribes a single seven-year term for the presidency and limits presidential prerogatives considerably.
'In other words, the previous executive structure centered on an all-powerful president would be transformed into a rational presidential system on the principle of checks and balances,' Chun said.
In an apparent criticism of his mentor, the late President Park, Chun said, 'The history of the Korean constitution shows that neither the preceding governments, nor the previous presidents, nor the previous government parties had any genuine interest in preventing the reelection of the president.'
Park had remained in power for 18 years until his assassination in Seoul last October.
'Reflecting upon this unhappy past, I, as the first incumbent president to propose a ban on a second term for the chief executive, want to emphasize to the present and future generations that the observance of the provisions in question is the key to to a viable democracy in this land and would mark a major milestone in the political history of Korea,' Chun said.
Chun's statement was viewed as a public pledge not to remain in power longer than the single seven-year term if he is elected to the presidency under the newly proposed constitution.
Chun 49, is expected to seek re-election in presidential elections scheduled for early next year. No strong competitors are expected to challenge the former army general.