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Political outlook after Chuseok

Posted September. 13, 2000 19:14,   


It is a practice for the President, after his return home from an overseas trip, to invite leaders of both the ruling and opposition parties to exchange views on political affairs. Taking advantage of his briefing on the results of his overseas tour, the ruling and opposition leaders discussed outstanding matters of mutual concern and often reached a consensus to break through political impasses.

However, the situation was different this time. Although President Kim Dae-Jung returned home on September 10 after attending the U. N. Millennium Summit in New York, the political circle has not raised any calls for an inter-party summit meeting.

The main opposition Grand National Party (GNP), which is engaged in an anti-government movement outside the National Assembly, maintains the position that this is not the time for such a bipartisan summit. The ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) is adopting the stance of not proposing a meeting of this kind first, assuming that the GNP would not comply with the request.

National Assembly lawmakers, who returned to Seoul after visiting their hometowns over the Chuseok holidays, discovered that there is rising criticism of the political rupture. But there are a wealth of issues to be addressed for political normalization.

The opposition GNP is scheduled to hold large-scale rallies in Daegu September 18 and in Busan on September 22 to protest against the ruling camp for "destroying politics." The GNP also plans to hold a similar anti-government rally in Daejon next week. Asserting that public opinion has become increasingly critical due to various scandals and soaring oil prices, GNP president Lee Hoi-Chang has said that his party`s current struggle would be upgraded to

the level of an effort to overthrow the incumbent regime.

On the other hand, the ruling MDP insisted that if there are scandals to be probed, the GNP should participate in parliamentary sessions to take issue with them. The MDP`s hands are tied, however, as it has yet to find ways to persuade defiant GNP lawmakers to return to the Assembly. The MDP lawmakers have made the excuse that it is difficult for them to even meet with GNP members.

The opposition party has proposed the appointment of special prosecutors to investigate the Hanvit Bank loan scandal and other issues as a pre-requisite for parliamentary normalization. But the ruling camp maintains the position that the opposition demand cannot be accepted under any circumstances.

A majority of MDP members seem to feel that for the present, there is no choice but bear the brunt of the GNP`s political offensive. This means that inter-party dialogue will likely be resumed only after a considerable period. Some related MDP members predicted that bipartisan talks might be possible after the GNP winds up its projected protest rallies in the Yongnam

areas and President Kim returns home from his scheduled visit to Japan around September 24.