Posted February. 12, 2015 00:00,
Rival political parties agreed Thursday to postpone a vote on Lee Wan-koo, the nominee for prime minister, until next week amid controversies over his eligibility for the job.
Yoo Seung-min, the floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, and his main opposition counterpart Woo Yoon-keun of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) reached an agreement on the postponement after a series of meetings. They also agreed to put off votes on all other agendas for a main parliament session until next Monday as well.
Until Thursday afternoon, the ruling party had been pushing for a vote without the NPAD, which threatened to boycott the vote. Saenuri lawmakers of the National Assembly`s special committee for Lee`s confirmation hearings adopted a report on the hearings results around 2:00 p.m. without opposition members. The ruling party holds seven of the 13 seats in the committee.
After the report was introduced to the committee, NPAD lawmakers surrounded the chairman`s seat to strongly protest the move and walked out of the conference room without participating in the voting. They hold a news conference to protest the ruling party`s single-handed handling of the confirmation process for the "ineligible prime minister nominee."
The adoption of the report on Lee automatically introduced a motion for his confirmation to the main parliamentary session. However, National Assembly speaker Chung Ui-hwa refused to hold a main session, calling for an agreement between the rival parties` floor leaders.
The NPAD proposed to postpone the voting until after the Lunar New Year`s holiday, only to be immediately rejected by the Saenuri Party. The National Assembly speaker also said that it would be "too late," proposing a vote on one day among February 13, 16 and 17. Then, the floor leaders of the two parties agreed on the February 16 voting, which both parties ratified.
President Park`s office Cheong Wa Dae plans to accelerate her planned personnel reshuffle as soon as the confirmation process is completed.
"There is no change in the plan to carry out a cabinet reshuffle based on the new prime minister`s recommendation once the confirmation process is over," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Min Kyoung-wook told reporters. It seems that the president will announce her nominees of new ministers immediately after Lee makes recommendations as prime minister if he is confirmed by the parliament.