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Lee Myung-bak elected S Korean president
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South Korea's National Election Commission announced on Wednesday that Lee Myung-bak of the conservative Grand National Party won the presidential elections.



Lee Myung-bak of the conservative Grand National Party wins the presidential elections on Dec. 19, 2007.


"Thank you. Today's victory (in election) is neither my personal victory, nor my party's victory. It belongs to all the South Korean people," Lee said at a celebration with his supporters in downtown Seoul after the announcement by National Election Commission (NEC).


The head of the NEC said the election watchdog will convene a meeting on Thursday and issue a certification to Lee Myung-bak on his election.


As of 11:25 p.m. (1425 GMT) Wednesday, Lee has gained 9.96 million ballots out of the total of 23.68 million voters, far ahead of other candidates. The counting is expected to end soon.


According to the NEC, about 23.68 million out of a total of 37.65 million eligible voters cast their ballots in Wednesday's presidential polls all over the country. The voter turnout rate was 62.9 percent, the lowest since 1987.


Major competitors of Lee Myung-bak have already admitted their failures in the elections.


Presidential candidate Chung Dong-young of the pro-government United New Democratic Party (UNDP) said he accepted the failure in the presidential race and will abide by the people's choice of president-elect Lee Myung-bak.


"I respect the Korean people's choice today. I wish president-elect Lee Myung-bak will do well for the country. I apologize for falling short of the people's expectations," Chung said in a statement.


The independent Lee Hoi-chang said that he accepted the people's choice of president-elect Lee Myung-bak.


"Again, I failed to be chosen by the people. But I respect the people's choice," said Lee Hoi-chang, who had been defeated in the presidential elections in 2002 and 1997.


South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun Wednesday evening issued a message congratulating Lee Myung-bak on his election as South Korea's 17th president.


"We deliver words of congratulations to Lee Myung-bak. We also send words of consolation to the defeated candidates. We respect the will of the people displayed in the presidential election," said a message issued in the name of Roh's spokesperson, Cheon Ho-seon.


"The presidential office evaluates the fact that the presidential election was conducted fairly. The Participatory Government will faithfully try to hand over the administration to the next president. We will also try our best the last moment to take care of state affairs," said the message.


Cheon said Roh is to give a congratulatory call to Lee on Thursday morning and invite Lee to visit the Presidential Office.


Lee will take over the position of president from current President Roh Moo-hyun on Feb. 25, 2008.



South Korean President-elect Lee Myung-bak (R) of the conservative main opposition Grand National Party and his wife Kim Soon-ok wave their hands to supporters in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007.


Lee, former CEO of Hyundai Construction and Engineering, is famous for his administration as Seoul Mayor from 2002 to 2006, during which he transformed the city's landscape with the restoration of a downtown stream and reformed the city's public traffic system.


Lee pledged in his campaign to raise annual economic growth by 7 percent during his presidential tenure, and promote South Korea into the world's seventh largest economy in 10 years with per capita GDP increased to 40,000 U.S. dollars in the same period.


South Korea is currently the 13th largest economy in the world with a per capita GDP of about 20,000 U.S. dollars.


He also promised to create 600,000 new jobs annually. He is expected to lower corporate taxes and unnecessary administrative restrictions on investment and business operation.


Lee said he would abolish the current equity investment ceiling rules, make it easier for industrial companies to own financial institutions like banks, extend tax deduction benefits and remove quasi-taxes that have drawn criticism from businessmen.


Local media said Lee is a strong supporter of free trade agreements with foreign countries.


(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2007)

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