South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said Friday he would continue to seek a vote of confidence on his leadership and step down if he fails to win a fresh mandate.
In a nationally televised live interview with local TV channel SBS, Roh said he wants to ask people if they would accept "a different president than they thought he would be" as his morality has been dealt a serious blow by corruption involving his associates.
"If (the president) fails to win people's confidence, a new president is supposed to be elected within 60 days," he said. "People fear this would cause a great confusion, but that would not shake our country."
In October, Roh abruptly proposed in the National Assembly to hold national confidence referendum around mid-December. He also announced that if he fails to gain support from people, he will step down and a new presidential election will be held around in April 2004, when parliament general election also is to be held.
Nine months into office, Roh has seen his approval rating nosedive from more than 70 percent to 30 percent following a series of scandals involving some of his aides, including Choi Do-sul, who was arrested last month and charged with receiving 1.1 billion won (930,000 US dollars) from local SK group, the nation'sthird-largest conglomerate.
The president said in the SBS interview he would step up his push for a confidence vote after ongoing probes into corruption scandals involving his former aides are completed.
He also expressed he will cooperate with prosecution's probes into his three former aids involved in scandals, as "everyone is equal in front of law."
The president defended his rejection earlier this week of an opposition bill on an independent counsel probe into corruption allegations of his former aides.
Roh said it is difficult for him to accept the bill because thecases are being investigated by state prosecutors. He said he would accept a special counsel investigation if the prosecution investigation ended inconclusively and unsatisfactorily.
Expressing their dissatisfaction over Roh's veto of the bill, lawmakers of the biggest opposition, the Grand National Party, have refused to do with parliament affairs since Thursday. And they started new coordination with other parties to try to pass the bill again in the parliament.