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Opposition decides to introduce bill on special probe into election scandal

Opposition decides to introduce bill on special probe into election scandal

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Published : 2013-12-19 13:46
Updated : 2013-12-19 13:46

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) decided Thursday to initiate a bill calling for an independent counsel investigation into the alleged state tampering in last year's presidential election.

The decision was made in a general meeting of DP lawmakers. Party officials said they would try to introduce the bill on the floor of the National Assembly this week jointly with independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo and the minor opposition Justice Party.

Prospects of the bill's passage, however, are unclear as the ruling Saenuri Party is against a special probe into the scandal that center on allegations that state agencies attempted to sway voters with online political comments in favor of then ruling party candidate and now president, Park Geun-hye.

The ruling party holds a majority with 155 seats in the 300-member legislature.

The proposed bill calls for a parliamentary committee to recommend two candidates, with President Park appointing one of them as a special prosecutor to lead the investigation. It also calls for appointing three assistant prosecutors.

The duration of the investigation was set for 60 days, but can be extended twice, first by 30 days and then by 15 days, if deemed necessary, according to the bill.

It also calls for banning the president from firing the special prosecutor unless the counsel has serious problems with carrying out its duties. Those obstructing the investigation can be punished with up to five years in prison, it said.

The election meddling scandal has plagued South Korean politics for more than a year, resulting in frequent parliamentary deadlocks holding up passage of key bills.

The opposition has claimed last year's election proved unfair and demanded that Park apologize, sack her intelligence chief and reform the spy agency. But Park has categorically denied any link to the alleged wrongdoing and promised to take due measures after court decisions. (Yonhap News)

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