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No end in sight for Sewol bill dispute

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Published : 2014-08-27 21:08
Updated : 2014-08-27 21:23

The ruling and main opposition parties continued their standoff over the special Sewol bill Wednesday as their leaders engaged in talks with the victims’ families.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy continued its campaign to pressure the ruling party into forming a trilateral group with representatives of the Sewol victims’ families to negotiate the Sewol bill.

The ruling Saenuri Party, for its part, reiterated its stance on forming the negotiation group, saying it would damage the foundations of representative democracy.

Although the NPAD and the ruling party had reached an agreement on the bill on two previous occasions, both drafts were rejected by the Sewol families.

The victims’ families maintain that the committee in charge of probing the April 16 ferry disaster should be given investigative powers.

Saying that Kim Young-oh was willing to end his hunger strike if the ruling party changed its stance, NPAD interim chief Rep. Park Young-sun again called on the Saenuri Party to form the three-way negotiation group.

Kim is the father of a high school student who died in the ferry accident, who has been on a hunger strike for nearly 50 days.

“Protecting the lives of the people is the foundation of the Constitution and the reason for the existence of a nation. The Saenuri Party must stop its calculations, and should immediately participate in the trilateral negotiation group,” Park said. 
New Politics Alliance for Democracy lawmakers including interim chief Rep. Park Young-sun (left) call for renegotiation over the special bill on the Sewol ferry disaster in central Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

“The trilateral negotiation group was proposed as the most realistic way for the families, and ruling and opposition party leaders to negotiate and to resolve distrust.”

The NPAD also continued to boycott parliamentary procedures and its occupation of parliamentary committee meeting rooms while some lawmakers took to the streets to stage demonstrations.

The ruling party also dug in its heels, demanding the NPAD resume normal parliamentary operations.

At a closed-door meeting between senior lawmakers and the party leadership, the ruling party also confirmed yet again that it would not accept the NPAD suggestion to form a three-way negotiation group.

“The consensus was to listen and to treat the families with respect. However, it was reaffirmed that the families are not negotiation partners,” Saenuri Party spokesman Rep. Park Dae-chul said. He added that the lawmakers at the meeting raised concerns that the Sewol bill was being used for political ends.

“It was once again concluded that the law and principles, which form the foundations of our society, must not be damaged.”

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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