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DP blocks bill on Korea-EU FTA

Parties once again faced turmoil over the controversial Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement bill, as the Democratic Party, despite its previous agreement, resolved not to pass the bill Wednesday.

In an hours-long party meeting held before the parliamentary regular session in the afternoon, a majority of the main opposition party lawmakers voted against passing the bill, according to party officials.

DP floor leader Park Jie-won suggested to his GNP counterpart Kim Moo-sung that they make further discussion in the upcoming extra sessions.

The regular session, which was scheduled exclusively for the Korea-EU FTA issue, was thus canceled and the DP held instead an in-party meeting to discuss its countermeasures in case the GNP pushes on with the bill.

The GNP, upon the DP’s decision, nevertheless pledged to take a vote on the bill, with or without the consent of opposition parties.

“The bill is to be passed by all means,” said Kim Moo-sung.

“We have acceded to 90 percent of the DP’s demands in order to reach our compromise, but the DP still is unwilling to accept it.”

The DP reached a hard-earned agreement earlier Monday with the GNP and government officials to pass the long-delayed FTA bill in a special parliamentary session.

The agreement involved stepping up the measures to protect local businesses from the effects of the FTA, such as banning large supermarkets within a 1 kilometer radius of small traditional markets.

The compromise, however, met fierce resistance from other opposition parties and from within the DP as well.

Three minority parties held a joint demonstration Wednesday morning, denouncing the DP’s moves.

“The DP is not entitled to single-handedly represent the entire opposition camp, without even collecting their opinion,” said the parties in a joint statement.

They also claimed that the DP’s rushed agreement on the FTA bill may destroy the solidarity in the opposition camp.

“Once the bill is passed, there shall be no turning back and a renegotiation will be impossible,” said Park Sun-young of the conservative minority Liberty Forward Party.

“It is deplorable that the DP should uphold an agreement which may threaten the lives of some 6 million merchants and 3.5 million farmers and fishers.”

Lee Jung-hee, leader of the liberal minority Democratic Labor Party, criticized the content of the bill, saying that the ban on large supermarkets will do little to protect the local merchants once the FTA goes into effect.

Also, in the DP’s Supreme Council meeting held in the morning, seven out of its nine members spoke against passing the bill.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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