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Opposition Ends Standoff, Agrees to Pass Bills

Posted January. 07, 2009 04:20,   


With rival parties agreeing to settle controversial bills yesterday, the National Assembly returned to normal in ending 18 days of deadlock.

The floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties in a meeting yesterday in the National Assembly fine-tuned the wording of an agreement on the contested bills due to pass in the extra parliamentary session.

On five media bills on allowing large corporations to own TV broadcasters, both sides agreed to try to work out an agreement. They agreed to pass bills having no differing opinions.

On ratification of the free trade deal with the United States, rival parties reportedly agreed to ratify the agreement as soon as possible after the inauguration of the Obama administration.

They will also introduce a bill on deregulation of the separation of finance and industry before parliament in February.

Rival parties, however, failed to narrow differences over amending election law to allow overseas Koreans the right to vote in presidential and general elections.

They reportedly clashed over a bill that was amended following the Constitutional Court’s ruling June 28 last year. The court ruled that the clause on recognizing the right to vote based on resident registration is unconstitutional because it violates the people’s right to suffrage.

The main opposition Democratic Party urged the creation of a political reform committee to produce a revised bill. The ruling Grand National Party said the job should go to the National Assembly’s Public Administration and Security Committee.

Prior to the negotiations, the Democratic Party ended its sit-in protest at the Assembly’s main hall and three committee chambers.

Party leader Chung Sye-kyun said in a statement, “Given that Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o promised not to invoke his authority to unilaterally pass contested bills and Grand National Party Chairman Park Hee-tae expressed his willingness to cooperate, we believed conditions for dialogue were met.”

The Democratic Party occupied Dec. 19 the chambers of three parliamentary committees dealing with controversial bills and began a sit-in at a parliamentary plenary session hall Dec. 26.

After the hall was freed, Speaker Kim ordered security officials dispatched to keep order in the Assembly to disperse and opened all entrances to the Assembly at noon.

The National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee began its session for the first time in 22 days and passed 46 bills that the ruling and opposing parties have no disagreement on.

They are expected to pass the bills after the opening of the plenary session.

On the opening of the extra parliamentary session, ruling party floor leader Hong Joon-pyo said Friday, “We will convene another extra session Friday after this session ends Thursday and settle pending bills until the end of the month.”

Democratic Party leader Chung opposed this plan, however.

To convene an extra parliamentary session, notification of three days before the scheduled date and agreement from a quarter of lawmakers are required.