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Main opposition party under fire for opening session apparently to shield lawmaker from arrest

All Headlines 15:40 June 01, 2018

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- The ruling and minor opposition parties on Friday denounced the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) for convening an extraordinary parliamentary session apparently to protect its scandal-ridden lawmaker from arrest.

The prosecutors last month requested the National Assembly's consent to the arrest of Kweon Seong-dong, a three-term LKP lawmaker involved in a hiring scandal at Kangwon Land Co., a state-run casino operator.

The LKP unilaterally convened the session Friday, claiming it is abiding by parliamentary law that calls for the opening of a 30-day temporary session in February, April, June and August.

But the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and three other opposition parties said the LKP's move is aimed at protecting Kweon as lawmakers cannot be arrested while the parliament is in session without parliamentary consent.

"We voice deep regret over the LKP, which chose a 'bulletproof' parliament rather than common sense and responsibility. We call for the LKP to make a sincere apology," the floor leaders of the DP and the opposition parties said in a joint statement.

The National Assembly came under fire after rejecting the prosecution's request for consent to arrest two other LKP lawmakers on May 21.

The normal operation of parliament is widely expected to be delayed until after local elections and parliamentary by-elections on June 13.

Former National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun's two-year term ended earlier this week, but rival parties have yet to start discussions over a vote on his successor and the formation of parliamentary standing committees for the second half of the 20th parliament's four-year term.

The governing DP calls for the swift launch of consultations for the formation of parliamentary committees in a bid to prevent a prolonged vacuum.

But the LKP claims that any discussions should be made after the local elections on hopes that the outcome of the upcoming parliamentary by-elections could change the composition of the 288-member parliament.

The governing DP holds 118 seats, followed by the main opposition LKP with 113 seats. Parliamentary by-elections will be conducted in 12 districts nationwide.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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