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Rival parties clash over dismissal motion for interior minister, budget plan

Politics 15:46 December 01, 2022

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- Rival political parties on Thursday clashed over whether to hold a plenary session of the National Assembly amid disagreements over a national budget bill and a dismissal motion against the interior minister over the deadly crowd crush in Seoul.

The ruling People Power Party (PPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) have been in a political deadlock after the DP put forth a motion calling for Interior Minister Lee Sang-min's dismissal the previous day to hold him accountable for the bungled emergency response to the Oct. 29 tragedy that killed at least 158 people in the Itaewon district.

The DP vowed to report the motion at a plenary session Thursday and pass it through the National Assembly on Friday. However, the PPP strongly opposed the plan, saying Lee should be held accountable if a parliamentary investigation proves he was at fault in the tragedy.

Since its launch last week, a non-partisan special parliamentary committee has been preparing to hold hearings and other investigative activities into the tragedy.

The PPP had been originally opposed to the parliamentary investigation plan, saying it could hamper ongoing police investigations into the case and evolve into a political fight, but it decided to participate in the probe on the condition that parliament first deals with the national budget for next year.

Friday is a legal deadline for the National Assembly to approve next year's budget bill, but the bill's passage will likely be postponed due to the standoff between the rival parties.

"We don't know where problems will break out in the economy if the budget doesn't get approved at the right time," PPP floor leader Joo Ho-young said, urging the DP to deal with the budget plan first before discussing the interior minister's dismissal.

On the other hand, the DP claimed the dismissal motion is a matter that should be dealt with separately from the parliamentary investigation and the national budget plan, pressing the ruling party and the government to hold Lee accountable.

"If Lee does not step down on his own or President Yoon Suk-yeol rejects the dismissal request, we will push for Lee's impeachment," DP floor leader Park Hong-geun said.

The ruling party is trying to stall by bundling the parliamentary investigation plan, the dismissal motion and the national budget plan together, Park said.

The rival parties have failed to reach a compromise on the budget plan due to disagreements in the budget related to the presidential office relocation, the establishment of a police bureau within the interior ministry and other agenda items.

A Dec. 1, 2022, composite photo of the ruling People Power Party floor leader Joo Ho-young (L) and the main opposition Democratic Party floor leader Park Hong-geun (Yonhap)

A Dec. 1, 2022, composite photo of the ruling People Power Party floor leader Joo Ho-young (L) and the main opposition Democratic Party floor leader Park Hong-geun (Yonhap)

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