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(6th LD) Ruling, opposition parties agree on parliamentary formation

All News 19:28 June 08, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in para 9-11, photo)

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- After a days-long stalemate, South Korea's ruling and opposition parties agreed Wednesday on details for the formation of the new National Assembly, after the Saenuri Party announced that it will allow the main opposition to appoint the parliamentary speaker.

The agreement came hours after Saenuri opened the doors for the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea to designate the speaker. The inability to see eye to eye on this matter stalled all other parliamentary proceedings such as picking who will chair the assembly committees.

Minjoo welcomed the latest decision, adding that the move reflects the public's will as shown through April's poll.

As widely expected, Saenuri and Minjoo took eight chairmanships, respectively, while the minor People's Party took two.

Saenuri secured the chair of the house steering committee, which has been sought by Minjoo. The ruling party also took the chairmanship of the critical legislation and judiciary, finance, national policy, administration, science, intelligence and defense committees.

The main opposition, in turn, took the chairmanship of budget and accounts, labor, foreign affairs, welfare, transport, agriculture, gender equality and ethics committees.

The People's Party took the chair of education and trade committees.

The parties also agreed to have Saenuri and People's Party each take the two National Assembly vice speaker's posts.

"Although a day has passed since the legal deadline, it is satisfying to know that an agreement was reached," Chung Jin-suk, the floor leader of Saenuri, said. "Now we plan to work hard. We will take care of people's livelihood, the economy and listen to what the public has to say, including the voices of youths."

The 20th National Assembly is set to name the speaker on Thursday, and also elect heads of each committee on Monday.

Political pundits said around four lawmakers will battle for the National Assembly speaker seat within Minjoo. Once elected, the speaker must withdraw from the party during his or her term.

The latest breakthrough comes after the ruling Saenuri and Minjoo parties took heavy fire as they have been engaged in exhaustive wrangling after the main opposition managed to take one more seat in the 300-seat unicameral parliament following the April 13 polls.

The discussion stalled as Saenuri claimed it should take the National Assembly speaker seat, in line with tradition, since the post has been taken up primarily 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.

Parliamentary insiders said Rep. Suh Chung-won, an eight-term lawmaker from Saenuri who has been cited as a potential candidate for the National Assembly speaker, had helped move dialogue forward when he called on the party to look at the bigger picture and asked the party leadership to yield the speaker's seat to the opposition.

Saenuri Floor Leader Chung, meanwhile, brushed aside speculations raised by the opposition that the presidential office has been behind the ruling party's strategy on the parliamentary formation.

Political pundits said the swifter than expected resolution comes as all parties were under pressure to overcome differences as soon as possible and deliberate on laws that can help ordinary people and companies.

colin@yna.co.kr
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