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(2nd LD) Main opposition party decides to boycott regular parliamentary session

2017/09/02 18:45

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(ATTN: UPDATES with reactions from the presidential office and ruling party in paras 9-14; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said Saturday that it will boycott the ongoing regular session of the National Assembly in opposition to what it claimed is a government attempt to control state-run media.

The decision was made at an emergency meeting of party lawmakers.

The former ruling party insisted the new liberal Moon Jae-in administration is seeking to control state-run broadcasters.

On Friday, the prosecution said it had obtained a court warrant to detain Kim Jang-kyom, the incumbent head of public broadcaster MBC, after he failed to answer three previous summons for questioning over suspected labor law violations.

Kim is accused by his own company's labor union of having used his influence to produce newscasts that were favorable to the ousted former leader Park Geun-hye and her administration.

Hong Joon-pyo (second from L), head of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, attends an emergency meeting of party lawmakers at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, on Sept. 2, 2017, where the party decided to boycott the ongoing regular session of the National Assembly. (Yonhap) Hong Joon-pyo (second from L), head of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, attends an emergency meeting of party lawmakers at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, on Sept. 2, 2017, where the party decided to boycott the ongoing regular session of the National Assembly. (Yonhap)

LKP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo earlier called for an all-out struggle against the incumbent administration, accusing it of trying to take control of MBC and other public broadcasters so they will produce broadcasts that are favorable to the new president and his government.

The main opposition party's decision to boycott the parliamentary session also came only one day after the National Assembly convened its regular session that is partly aimed at reviewing and legislating the annual government bill on next year's spending.

The LKP controls 107 seats in the 300-seat unicameral parliament, while the ruling Democratic Party holds 120 seats.

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae quickly urged the main opposition party to reverse its decision, dismissing any links between the government and the ongoing investigation against the MBC chief.

"The warrant for Kim's arrest came from a court decision and not by an order from the government," a Cheong Wa Dae official said, while speaking on condition of anonymity. "It is not something that can be linked to the parliamentary session."

   The ruling party spoke in a harsher tone, insisting the main opposition party's accusation against the government may have been possible only because the former ruling party and its Park Geun-hye administration had long enjoyed their control over public broadcasters.

"They claim the issuance of the warrant is part of an attempt to oppress the media, but the people do not see it that way though that may be their own past experience," Democratic Party spokesman Rep. Kang Hoon-sik said in a released statement.

The Cheong Wa Dae official said the presidential office will convince the LKP to end its boycott. Kang, on the other hand, said the party may seek other measures under cooperation with other opposition parties.

The liberal People's Party too urged the main opposition party to end its declared boycott, noting the MBC chief had brought the warrant on himself by repeatedly refusing to answer prosecution summons without any plausible excuses.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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