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(LEAD) Parties fail to agree on parliamentary committee formation

All News 14:58 July 09, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS more info throughout)

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's political parties failed Monday to reach an agreement over the formation of parliamentary standing committees, dashing hopes for normalizing the operation of the National Assembly.

The floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties met earlier in the day to conclude negotiations over how to form the 18 committees for the second half of the 20th National Assembly's four-year term.

The parties started consultations in late June even though the former speaker's two-year term ended in May. Opposition parties have also been grappling with their resounding defeat in the June 13 local elections.

But their talks broke down mainly because both the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) wanted to take the chair of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, a key panel for the passage of bills.

The vice floor leaders of the rival parties will continue negotiations in the afternoon to fine-tune divided opinions about the distributions of key committees.

This photo, taken July 9, 2018, shows the floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party and opposition parties holding talks to form parliamentary standing committees. (Yonhap)

"The parties could not wrap up the talks as the ruling party did not show any compromise," said Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the LKP. He claimed on his Facebook page that the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae may be behind the DP's stance.

The LKP insisted that it should lead the judiciary committee to prevent the DP from wielding excessive influence on parliament at a time when the ruling party commands 130 seats in the 300-member National Assembly.

Hong Young-pyo, the floor leader of the DP, lashed out at Kim's claim that Cheong Wa Dae has probably ordered the DP to stick to the judiciary committee's chair.

The minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP) suggested that the LKP would lead the judiciary committee, given the practice of letting the major opposition party take the post while setting up an institutional framework to limit the judiciary committee's authority.

"The committee allocation and an improvement in the system will be discussed together. Then, I think that the talks will likely gather pace," Kim Kwan-young, the BP's floor leader, said.

If the talks go smoothly, the DP is expected to lead the House Steering Committee, in line with the tradition of allowing the ruling party's floor leader to take the post. It is a key committee that handles the parliament's overall operations and oversees the presidential office.

Currently, the LKP holds the post of the chief of the steering committee as the Saenuri Party, the LKP's predecessor, was the ruling party back in 2016, when the committee formation was decided.


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