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(LEAD) Rival parties seek last-minute negotiations on contentious corruption probe unit

All News 16:59 December 07, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- Rival parties agreed Monday to seek last-minute negotiations on the contentious issue of picking the inaugural chief of a new investigative unit specializing in corruption by high-ranking government officials.

The agreement between the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) came during a meeting between their floor leaders, Reps. Kim Tae-nyeon and Joo Ho-young, respectively, mediated by National Assembly Speaker Rep. Park Byeong-seug.

The DP is aiming to launch the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO), a core campaign pledge by President Moon Jae-in, within this year.

But its launch is being stalled after a seven-member committee in charge of shortlisting candidates for the first CIO chief failed to come to an agreed-upon outcome in its three rounds of meetings last month, due mainly to resistance by two PPP-side members on the committee.

"(Both parties agreed) to have dense consultation on recommending candidates for the CIO chief," PPP spokesman Rep. Choi Hyung-du said in a briefing on the Kim-Joo meeting.

"It is designed to select CIO chief candidates receptible (to both parties, based on) the process that has taken place so far," Choi noted.

A failure to strike a deal on the issue, however, is likely to create a firestorm of bipartisan tension, with the DP, powered by its command of a hefty parliamentary majority, planning to go it alone and pass a revision to the CIO law this week if an agreement is not made.

The DP is adamant that it will pass the envisioned revision through the parliamentary plenary session scheduled for Wednesday. If passed as planned, the revision is likely to strip the two PPP-side members of the CIO chief candidate recommendation committee of their combined power to veto the committee's decision.

Democratic Party floor leader Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon (L) and People Power Party floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young exchange greetings during a meeting mediated by National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug (C) on Dec. 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

In a bid to counter the DP, PPP lawmakers decided to filibuster the upcoming plenary session during a party meeting.

In a two-track strategy aimed at preparing against the negotiations' potential breakdown, DP lawmakers on the parliamentary Legislation and Judiciary Committee tabled the controversial revision bill at a subcommittee meeting, putting it on course to the plenary session.

Earlier in the day, Moon expressed hope that the CIO will be established, renewing his determination to reform powerful institutions, especially the state prosecution service.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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