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(LEAD) New parliament opens 1st session, but opposition boycotts voting

All News 12:16 June 05, 2020

(ATTN: REWRITES lead; UPDATES with more info from 7th para)

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's newly elected parliament convened its first plenary session Friday, but the main opposition party walked out of the chamber briefly after the opening in protest against the ruling party's plan over the organization of parliamentary standing committees.

The first full-floor meeting of the 21st National Assembly was called after the ruling majority Democratic Party submitted a unilateral request for the new chamber's inaugural session earlier this week.

Lawmakers of the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) attended the opening of the session, but all of them walked out of the chamber soon as a gesture of their protest.

"Today's meeting is not legitimate because there was no agreement between the ruling and opposition parties (over how to organize the standing committees)," UFP floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young said at the beginning of the session before the lawmakers' walkout.

"I want to make clear that our presence here is meant to show our protest, not to endorse the plenary session," he noted.

The two rival parties are at odds over the naming of the chairmen of the chamber's 18 standing committees, as both parties want the seat in the key committee on legislation and judiciary.

United Future Party floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young speaks during the opening of the first full floor meeting of the 21st National Assembly in Seoul on June 5, 2020. (Yonhap)

Without the UFP, the DP and other minor parties present at the session formally elected Rep. Park Byeong-seug, a six-term lawmaker of the DP, as the first speaker of the assembly for a two-year term.

Two seats for the chamber's deputy speakers, reserved for the ruling and the main opposition parties, were available for voting.

But only Rep. Kim Sang-hee of the DP was elected to the post during the session held in the absence of the main opposition party.

In accordance with the parliamentary act, Park is to leave his party to serve the chairmanship as an independent lawmaker.

Rep. Park Byeong-seug of the Democratic Party delivers his acceptance speech after being elected as the first speaker of the 21st National Assembly on June 5, 2020. (Yonhap)


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