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Prospects remain bleak for prime minister nominee

Rival parties remained deadlocked over the approval of Prime Minister nominee Hwang Kyo-ahn Thursday, casting a cloud over his prospects of taking over the post that has been vacant for more than a month.

The governing Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy failed to agree on a parliamentary procedure to confirm the nominee. The Saenuri Party urged for Hwang’s confirmation at the plenary session on Friday, while NPAD opposed it.

“Both parties couldn’t reach an agreement over the parliamentary schedule for Hwang’s confirmation,” said Rep. Lee Choon Suak of NPAD. The main opposition party insisted that the three-day hearing this week had failed to shed any light on allegations of Hwang’s ethical lapses.

The remark came after the Saenuri Party hinted at a “unilateral” push to put the nomination to a vote. “We will convince the National Assembly’s speaker to put it to a vote unless the NPAD comes for negotiation,” said Saenuri floor leader Rep. Yoo Seung-min on Thursday.

Yoo pointed out that Friday is “virtually” the deadline for the approval because the law dictates that lawmakers complete the process by Saturday.

But NPAD repeated its rejection of the nominee, who they claim is “unverified.” The party has been claiming that Hwang is unfit for the premiership as he had given “insincere” and “insufficient” explanations to the allegations against him.

The P.M. nominee faces allegation that he dodged military service and violated the code of conduct as a lawyer. The NPAD also charges that he pretended to have a rare case of hives to avoid mandatory military service and was involved in a controversial pardon when he was a lawyer in 2012. He has denied the allegations.

“We were not able to begin the procedure for Hwang’s approval right now,” said NPAD floor leader Rep. Lee Jong-kul. “We couldn’t adopt the final report for the hearing and I don’t think the assembly is likely to hold a plenary session tomorrow in a smooth manner.”

Lee added that the party would continue its efforts to block Hwang’s approval. In the current parliament, Saenuri Party can push through the approval as it holds a majority with 160 out of 298 seats.

By Yeo Jun-suk (