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(LEAD) Rival parties reach last-minute compromise on parliamentary committee formations

All News 14:42 July 04, 2022

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- The rival parties agreed to jointly select a new National Assembly speaker and vice speakers Monday in a last-minute breakthrough that is expected to put the parliament into operation after more than a month of idling.

The compromise came as the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) accepted a proposal from the ruling People Power Party (PPP) that it would cooperate for the election of the parliamentary speaker and vice speakers on condition the DP promises to select parliamentary committee chiefs based on agreement between the two sides.

The PPP's floor leader, Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, made the proposal just hours before the DP, which holds 170 out of 299 seats in the National Assembly, planned to unilaterally convene a plenary session to select the speakers on its own.

"We offered a broad-minded concession, because normalizing the National Assembly is in the interest of the people, and the ruling and opposition parties need to put their heads together to address difficult livelihood issues," Kweon told reporters.

The DP has nominated a five-term lawmaker, Kim Jin-pyo, as its candidate for the next parliamentary speaker. In South Korea, it has been customary for the largest party in terms of parliamentary seats to take the speaker position.

The impasse in committee formation negotiations has left the Assembly idling for a month, forcing a halt in legislation and Cabinet member confirmation hearings.

Earlier, the DP has offered to hand over the chairmanship of the judiciary committee, a key Assembly panel that has the power to approve bills before they are put to a plenary vote, to the PPP in exchange for the PPP's cooperation for the launch of a special committee on judiciary reform.

But the PPP has rejected the proposal, because the special committee is aimed at completing the process of reducing and ultimately abolishing the prosecution's investigative powers in accordance with recently enacted prosecution reform laws, which the ruling bloc has opposed.

This file photo taken June 22, 2022, shows ruling People Power Party floor leader Kweon Seong-dong (R) and main opposition Democratic Party floor leader Park Hong-geun at an event in Seoul. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)


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