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Main opposition party refuses to cooperate with government

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party on Thursday said it was pulling out of a consultative body that President Moon Jae-in proposed as a platform for discussions between five major political parties and the president.

“In yesterday’s general meeting, many of our lawmakers agreed that we cannot just watch the government unilaterally wielding its political force,” the party’s interim chief and Floor Leader Chung Woo-taik said Thursday. “I think the president’s suggestion to create a consultative body is meaningless (under these circumstances).”

Chung Woo-taik (center), the floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 1, 2017. (Yonhap)
Chung Woo-taik (center), the floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 1, 2017. (Yonhap)

The conservative party strongly opposed the nomination of the new Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon over his ethical breaches. In Wednesday’s plenary session, all of its 107 lawmakers boycotted the vote and rallied outside the assembly hall for Moon to withdraw the appointment.

Soon after President Moon took office last month, he had a luncheon with the floor leaders of the five main parties and they had agreed to create a policy consultative body for regular discussions between the ruling and opposition parties.

“The Liberty Korea Party will not participate in the multilateral panel, which will be operated unilaterally by the president and the government, lecturing on their state affairs status,” Rep. Chung said.

He offered to establish a new form of consultative group, in which parties and the parliament lead discussions, for “a sincere cooperative governance,” he added.

The interim chief also expressed disappointment toward National Assembly Speaker Chung Se-kyun for putting the prime minister’s nomination to vote during Wednesday’s plenary session.

Regarding the weekly meeting with the parliamentary speaker and party floor leaders, which takes place every Monday, he called it meaningless and said he would not participate in the one next week.

Although the new Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon visited each party at the National Assembly on Thursday, Chung rejected the visit, saying it was only an awkward act of showing off.

Faced with the main opposition party’s resistance, the outlook for reform legislation of the Moon administration looks uncertain.

Rep. Chung reiterated the party’s opposition toward the government’s plan to create jobs in the public sector by expanding the supplementary budget of 11 trillion won ($10 billion) and its attempt to push for a referendum at the parliament on the deployment of the US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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