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Opposition Party Avows Protest outside Parliament

Posted May. 30, 2008 08:38,   


As the government announced new sanitary conditions for American beef imports and countermeasures for domestic cattle farmers yesterday, a day before the opening of the 18th National Assembly, the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) decided to stage large-scale rallies outside the National Assembly building to nullify the new import conditions.

The ongoing controversy is likely to intensify as students from major universities in Seoul also expressed their willingness to join candlelight vigils in protest of U.S. beef imports. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, for its part, said that it would fight to deter transportation of American beef.

In a supreme council meeting held on the same day, the UDP decided to launch a nationwide movement against U.S. beef imports and hold rallies with its party members in Busan, Seoul, the Chungcheong provinces and Gwangju-South Jeolla Province. The first rally will be held in Busan today.

“This is the height of self-righteousness and arrogance that ignores the will of the people,” said UDP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu. “The government and the ruling party will be entirely responsible for all the situations and misfortunes that will take place from now on.”

A group of lawmakers, including Rep. Song Young-gil, visited Cheong Wa Dae to hand over a complaint letter addressed to President Lee Myung-bak. The letter was given to Park Jae-wan, senior presidential secretary for political affairs. The letter reportedly demands the president to renegotiate the beef import deal and withdraw the promulgation of the new terms on U.S. beef imports.

The provisionally-named National Countermeasure Meeting Against Imports of U.S. Beef that May Be Infected With Mad Cow Disease held a candlelight vigil demanding the scrapping of the beef deal at Seoul Plaza in front of the City Hall at 7 p.m. with some 10,000 protesters. Students from Korea University, Sungkyunkwan University and Chung-Ang University also joined the vigil after holding a rally on their campuses.