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National Assembly elects new parliamentary speaker
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- The National Assembly opened its inaugural session on Monday and elected a six-term lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party as the new parliamentary speaker.

   In a secret ballot held during the plenary session, Rep. Kang Chang-hee earned 195 votes among 283 eligible voters to serve as the chief of the 19th National Assembly for the first half of its four-year term.

Rep. Kang Chang-hee of the ruling Saenuri Party was elected the new parliamentary speaker in the first plenary session on July 2, 2012 (Yonhap).

The 66-year-old Kang had served in the military in the 1970s and entered politics in 1980. He is known as the key aide to Rep. Park Geun-hye, a solid presidential candidate in the conservative camp.
Kang automatically became an independent lawmaker as the current law requires a parliamentary speaker to drop his or her party affiliation, reducing the number of ruling party's seats to 149 in the 300-member parliament.

   Soon after, Rep. Lee Byung-suk of the Saenuri Party and Rep. Park Byeong-seug of the main opposition Democratic United Party were elected as the new vice speakers for the next two years.

   Under a bipartisan agreement, the post of National Assembly speaker usually goes to the majority party, with the ruling and main opposition parties sharing the two posts of vice speaker.