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(LEAD) Opposition party to end record-breaking filibuster

All News 09:45 March 01, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS more information throughout; TRIMS)

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea will put an end to an ongoing, record-breaking filibuster aimed at blocking a government-backed anti-terrorism bill later on Tuesday, the party's floor leader said.

Nearly 30 opposition lawmakers have stood at the podium at the National Assembly chamber since Feb. 23 and took turns delivering speeches in opposition to the bill that they claim would give too much power to the intelligence agency.

"The Minjoo (Party) plans to wrap up an indefinite discussion sometime today," Lee Jong-kul, the party's floor leader, said.

Lee further said he will postpone a press conference to officially announce the decision until after holding a general meeting with party members.

The bill, which was forcibly taken by an assembly speaker to the floor, will be immediately put to a vote following the end of the filibuster.

It is most likely to pass as the ruling Saenuri Party controls 157 seats in the 293-member National Assembly.

President Park Geun-hye has repeatedly called on the National Assembly to pass the stalled bill to better protect the lives of South Koreans, citing a string of attacks around the world and terrorist threats from North Korea.

The opposition bloc, however, raised concerns over breach of privacy, such as allowing the National Intelligence Service to collect personal data on anyone suspected of posing a threat to the national security.

The party leadership made the decision during an emergency committee meeting late Monday when interim Chairman Kim Chong-in argued to halt the delaying tactic, party officials said.

Kim raised concerns that the indefinite discussion, if prolonged, could cause public backlash over the delay in the parliamentary endorsement of several contentious bills, they added.

The filibuster prevented the passage of a bipartisan deal on redrawing electoral districts for the upcoming general elections in April.

Earlier, the Saenuri Party and Minjoo Party reached an agreement to hold a plenary session to deliberate the deal on remapping electoral districts for the April 13 polls.

Separately, a bill aimed at improving North Korea's human rights condition also awaits to be taken to the floor for a vote.

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