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Opposition Parties Willing to Convene New Parliament

Posted June. 12, 2008 06:22,   


In the wake of the largest nationwide candlelight vigil against U.S. beef imports on Tuesday, both the ruling and opposition parties are moving to convene the new National Assembly.

Following the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party’s decision to convene parliament Tuesday, the floor leader of the ruling Grand National Party will hold talks with his counterpart from the main opposition United Democratic Party on Thursday.

The ruling party also agreed to a hearing on the revision of the livestock epidemic prevention law on condition that opposition parties convene parliament.

“Party lawmakers want to join parliament,” UDP Co-chairman Sohn Hak-kyu told a meeting of his party’s Supreme Council. “Though the public welcomed our participation (in the candlelight protests), we also see that they want clear distinctions among civic society, political circles and political parties.”

GNP floor leader Hong Joon-pyo and UDP floor leader Won Hye-young agreed to hold their first meeting Thursday morning at the 18th National Assembly on resolving the beef issue and opening the new parliament.

“We will discuss all pending issues including the selection of the parliamentary speaker and vice speaker, the formation of the National Assembly, and the beef issue when the floor leaders’ meeting is held,” Hong told The Dong-A Ilbo.

Chief policy-makers of the GNP, UDP, LFP and the progressive Democratic Labor Party also agreed to hold a public hearing Friday morning on the revision of the epidemic law.

GNP chief policy-maker Lim Tae-hee told a meeting of the government and the ruling party yesterday, "Opposition parties conveyed their willingness to open a public hearing on the beef issue. We`ll attend the hearing to come up with solutions together."

Ruling and opposition parties, whose arguments have stalled the opening of the new National Assembly, say they are willing to conduct dialogue to resolve the problems due to the gravity of the situation.

The ruling party apparently believes that if things in the administration go out of control, the party will also face a crisis.

Opposition parties are also aware that if they continue to boycott parliament and delay measures to improve the people’s livelihood, they, too, will face a public backlash.

With the month-long candlelight rallies showing signs of turning violent and citizens feeling fatigue due to the prolonged protests, more voices are urging a return to normalcy and to let the government and politicians settle the issue. This has also driven parties to engage in dialogue rather than confrontation, experts said.

The GNP suggested a trilateral policy meeting with the opposition and the government on improving the people’s livelihood, but rejected the opposition demand that it pledge to revise the epidemic law first. This could pose yet another obstacle to opening the 18th National Assembly.

jkmas@donga.com sys1201@donga.com