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Struggles over Gov’t Restructuring Continue

Posted February. 15, 2008 03:00,   


The Grand National Party and the presidential transitional committee on Thursday continued their tug-of-war under the table with the United New Democratic Party over the government restructuring bill.

The two sides attempted to fine-tune their differences until late at night Thursday through multiple channels, including the so-called “six negotiation members – the floor leaders and chief policy makers of the two parties, Yoo Ihn-tae, chairman of the Government Administration and Local Autonomy Committee, and Pahk Jae-wan, presidential secretary nominee for political affairs.

If the GNP and the transition committee narrow their differences with the UNDP through negotiations, they plan to submit a request for the confirmation hearing on the nomination of Cabinet members to the National Assembly on Friday after President-elect Lee Myung-bak meets with UNDP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu to reach a final agreement. Lee suggested Wednesday to Sohn that they hold a talk.

However, the pro-government UNDP demanded on Thursday that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF), the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) and the Rural Development Administration (RDA) be retained and the plan for creating two special ministerial posts be scrapped, while the GNP and the transitional team insisted that the MOMAF and the MOGEF must be closed.

The GNP and the transitional team instead proposed a compromise plan in which the MOGEF is merged into the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and the status of the Gender Equality Commission to be created under the MOHW will be raised to a ministerial-level unit directly supervised by the president.

The UNDP, which held a meeting among its members at the National Assembly on the same day, delegated comprehensive negotiation rights to its negotiation representatives after confirming its position that the MOMAF, the MOGEF and the RDA be retained.

At a supreme council meeting, GNP Chairman Kang Jae-sup said, “Negotiations over the Government Organization Law will end today (Friday). If we do not come to an agreement by the end of the day, we may have to request a confirmation hearing tomorrow.”

However, Joo Ho-young, spokesman for President-elect Lee Myung-bak, said, “(Even if we fail to arrive at an agreement,) we will put our utmost effort with great patience to launch a “normal government.”

In response, UNDP Chairman Sohn held a press conference at the Grand Hotel in Daegu, saying, “They should come to the negotiation table with sincerity. I also told President-elect Lee in a telephone conversation on Wednesday to have a meeting after having working-level negotiations.” “First, negotiations should be properly carried out. When the results (of the negotiations) are available, I can meet (him) at anytime.”

On the GNP and the transitional committee’s remarks on pushing for the confirmation hearing, UNDP floor spokesman Choi Jae-seong said, “Figures responsible for the management of the incoming Lee Myung-bak administration are threatening to launch a crippled Cabinet. This is something only opposition parties might do.”

swpark@donga.com sys1201@donga.com