|Rep. Lee Wan-koo of the ruling Saenuri Party and Park Young-sun of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy shake hands during a meeting at the Assembly building in Seoul, Sunday. (Yonhap)|
Ruling and opposition parties agreed Sunday to convene an extraordinary parliamentary session this month to discuss the investigation of and follow-up measures to the deadly ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Rep. Lee Wan-koo of the ruling Saenuri Party and Park Young-sun of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy agreed at their meeting to open a plenary session this week and activate standing committees starting Monday.
The agreement came during the first encounter between the new floor leaders of the rival parties, both of whom were elected on Thursday.
Appearing together at a news conference after their talks, Lee and Park pledged nonpartisan efforts to address the sinking of the ferry Sewol, including truth-finding, criminal punishment of those responsible and preventing a recurrence of such tragedy.
The rival parties will discuss organizing parliamentary committees for the second half of this year as soon as the special session begins, the lawmakers said.
The parties, however, failed to agree on details of the announced plans, including how they will conduct the fact-finding mission on the ferry disaster, the guidelines on forming the parliamentary committees and the duration of the May special session.
In particular, the parties have been unable to agree on the method of the truth-finding mission, with opposition lawmakers demanding a parliamentary probe, hearing and audit into government offices, as well as the appointment of a special prosecutor for a quick and effective investigation.
The ruling party, on the other hand, has yet to agree to appointing a special prosecutor, citing required parliamentary
procedure in advance including approval at the plenary session.
The 6,825-ton ferry carrying an estimated 476 passengers capsized and sank off the southwestern island of Jindo on April 16.
A total of 172 people were rescued on the day of sinking, but 275 of the passengers, many of them high school students on a field trip, were found dead, with 29 others still missing as of Sunday. (Yonhap)