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(3rd LD) Rival parties agree to normalize parliament after prolonged standoff

2018/05/14 19:02

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SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- The ruling and opposition parties agreed Monday to normalize parliament in a dramatic deal that ended 42 days of legislative impasse over a set of disputed bills.

Top officials of the parties reached an agreement to handle a bill to open an independent counsel probe into an online opinion rigging scandal and another for the government's proposed supplementary budget at the National Assembly's plenary session on Friday.

The rival parties have wrangled over the bills and other issues, crippling parliamentary proceedings since early April.

Earlier in the day, the parties failed to craft a compromise, raising the prospect of a prolonged standoff among them.

National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun called a plenary meeting for 4 p.m. in order to accept the resignations of lawmakers running in June's local elections so that by-elections will be held at the same time next month.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party vowed to do everything to derail the session unless the ruling Democratic Party agrees to a special investigation into allegations that a blogger with ties to a DP lawmaker manipulated Internet comments.

The two parties had been wide apart, mainly on the scope of a special investigation.

Monday was the deadline for accepting the lawmakers' resignations so as to enable by-elections to be held in June. Otherwise, the by-elections will be put off at least until April next year, leaving people in the four constituencies without representation for nearly a year.

The ruling party apparently believes it's better to hold by-elections now, when its popularity is running high, than to hold them next year. It says it's wrong to link the two unrelated issues -- the lawmakers' resignations and an independent counsel probe.

But the main opposition party argues an independent counsel investigation is as important as the by-elections.

Members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party hold a meeting in front of the entrance to the main National Assembly hall on May 14, 2018. (Yonhap) Members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party hold a meeting in front of the entrance to the main National Assembly hall on May 14, 2018. (Yonhap)

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