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(2nd LD) Ruling party yields Nat'l Assembly speaker post to opposition

All News 12:24 June 08, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS photo, details throughout)

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- After a days-long stalemate, South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party announced Wednesday that it will allow the main opposition to appoint the new National Assembly speaker, which will allow 20th National Assembly to start work in earnest.

The announcement made by Saenuri's floor leader Chung Jin-suk opens the door for the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea to designate the new National Assembly speaker. The deadlock on who will sit in the speaker's chair has stalled all parliamentary proceedings such as picking who will chair the 18 assembly committees.

The ruling party, however, said it should take the chairmanships of the key steering and legislation committees in return.

Saenuri also has been eying the intelligence committees within the National Assembly, while Minjoo wants to chair the steering and national policy committees.

Rep. Suh Chung-won, an eight-term lawmaker from Saenuri who has been cited as a potential candidate for the National Assembly speaker, called on his party to look at the bigger picture and asked Saenuri's leadership to yield the speaker's seat to the opposition.

Chung then brushed aside speculations raised by the opposition that the presidential office has been behind the ruling party's strategy on the parliamentary formation.

The Saenuri whip added it also plans to yield the budget, policy, and finance committees' chairmanships to the opposition.

Minjoo greeted the latest decision, adding that the move reflects the public's will as shown through April's poll. The main opposition added it will make effort to move forward on other issues related to the appointment of assembly committee chairs.

The ruling Saenuri Party and the Minjoo Party have been wrangling over the formation of the committees as the main opposition managed to take one more seat in the 300-seat unicameral parliament following the April 13 polls.

The discussion had faced a deadlock as Saenuri claimed it should take the National Assembly speaker seat, in line with tradition, since the post has with very few exceptions been taken up by the ruling party in the past. The opposition countered that the No. 1 party in terms of the number of lawmakers has priority in picking the speaker.

Political pundits earlier said if the parties do not agree on the issue soon, the 20th National Assembly will get off to a rocky start, which bodes ill for cooperation between the parties down the road.

colin@yna.co.kr
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