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Bereaved families reject rival parties' deal on bill on ferry disaster

The bereaved families of the victims of April's deadly ferry sinking rejected a deal reached by rival parties Tuesday to pass a bill aimed at uncovering the truth behind one of the country's deadliest maritime accidents.

The development is a new twist in efforts by President Park Geun-hye's government to put the tragedy behind and move on to address a host of pressing national issues, including rebuilding the sluggish economy.

The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol capsized off South Korea's southwest coast on April 16, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing.

The tragedy has become a political football in South Korea as critics argue that the government's initial failure to properly respond to the disaster contributed to the high death toll.

After weeks of wrangling over who should have the right to choose a special counsel for the investigation, the nation's two main rival parties -- the ruling Saenuri Party and the No. 1 opposition party New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) -- agreed earlier in the day to enact a special law aimed at determining the truth behind the tragedy.

The deal, however, was met with an immediate opposition from the families of the ferry victims who were dissatisfied with a bipartisan agreement to allow the ruling party to select two members of the seven-member panel to be tasked with choosing the special counsel.

"The committee for the bereaved families gave guidelines to Saenuri Party head Kim Moo-sung this morning, but these demands were not recognized in the deal," one of the victims' families told Yonhap News Agency.

The opposition from the victims' families is expected to further delay the passage of the ferry accident bill, which has been stalled due to wrangling over who should have the right to choose the special counsel, among other details. (Yonhap)

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