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Liberty Korea Party pins parliamentary standstill on presidential office

Pressure mounts for main opposition to open extraordinary session

Main opposition Liberty Korea Party on Thursday accused the presidential office of causing the standstill at the National Assembly amid pressure from ruling and minor opposition parties for the conservative party to cooperate to open the June extraordinary session.

“How can we resume the parliament when Cheong Wa Dae is ruining (cooperation), ridiculing and pressuring the main opposition?” said Liberty Korea Party floor leader Rep. Na Kyung-won in an urgent debate on the supplementary budget.

“We are in the process of restoring trust with the ruling party step-by-step, but the senior presidential secretary for political affairs and the secretary for political affairs have decided to stand in the front line of ridiculing the National Assembly while the president is on a state visit,” she added.

Earlier in the week Kang Gi-jung, the senior secretary for political affairs, said “Though the government has the authority to file for disbandment of a political party, it is more preferable to return it (the sovereign authority) to the public” in response to online petitions on the Cheong Wa Dae website about disbanding the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and main opposition Liberty Korea Party.

Kang’s comment was met with criticism from the conservative bloc, which interpreted it as pressuring and mocking the main opposition.

Main opposition Liberty Korea Party floor leader Na Kyung-won (left) speaks at an urgent debate session on the supplementary budget on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Main opposition Liberty Korea Party floor leader Na Kyung-won (left) speaks at an urgent debate session on the supplementary budget on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Cheong Wa Dae denied Na’s claim, saying, “(Handling) relations with the (ruling) party and the National Assembly is part of the Presidential Office for Political Affairs’ job.”

Signaling a tumultuous discussion on the government-purposed 6.7 trillion won ($5.66 billion) extra budget, Na suggested a hearing should be held to pinpoint the cause of lingering economic issues, which would further push back a decision.

With the political impasse showing no signs of easing, the Liberty Korea Party is under growing pressure to end the parliamentary standstill.

“We can’t endlessly wait for the Liberty Korea Party as we are faced with requests to open the National Assembly with parties willing to do so. … We will also fulfill requirements to pass the extra budget and imminent public welfare legislations,” said ruling party floor leader Lee In-young.

Emphasizing the role of the ruling party as “responsible for state affairs,” Lee added that starting next week meetings with government officials will be convened when necessary, while parliamentary committees and subcommittees in charge of reviewing legislation will gear up to restart discussion.

The minor progressive Justice Party began a protest in front of the main conference hall earlier this week to call on the ruling party and minor conservative Bareunmirae Party to put parliament back on track without the main opposition. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (