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Filibusters Blocking Impeachment Bill

Nov 17,2000
Stalemated by filibusters, the National Assembly continued to be mired in political wrangling and maneuvering Friday over the bill to impeach the prosecutor general and his deputy.

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party outright opposed the introduction of the bill while the opposition Grand National Party threatened to undermine the operation of the legislature if the bill fails to be introduced.

The bill was presented - or, formally, submitted to the National Assembly for deliberation - on Wednesday but has not been introduced on the floor for a vote.

In the middle of the action, Speaker Lee Man-sup, who belongs to the ruling party, vowed to use his legal authority and introduce the bill.

The ruling party held repeated meetings of its lawmakers during the day and resorted to filibustering that continued late Friday to call off the plenary and delay the interpellation session.

Since the law requires the impeachment bill to be processed within 72 hours of its presentation, it will automatically be canceled if the ruling party continues its filibustering, or nonstop speeches. The National Assembly will be in recess on Saturday.

A ruling party official said that his party still hopes to gather support from minor opposition parties and the legislator without party affiliation in boycotting any vote.

During the interpellation session Friday, Rep. Lee Sang-bae of the opposition charged that the prosecution covered up the truth while investigating a series of scandals in this administration, including "Furgate," the Hanvit Bank loan scandal and the recent scandal involving financial supervisors.

In addition to filibusters, the ruling party plans to ask the Speaker to introduce a bill on revising the legislative law granting negotiating bloc status to the minor opposition, the United Liberal Democrats, if he insists on introducing the impeachment bill.

"The opposition will probably balk at the introduction of the bill on revising the legislative law and bring about a parliamentary impasse, which is good for us because the impeachment bill will automatically be canceled in such a case," said a ruling party official.

The opposition leadership asked its lawmakers to remain calm even if the ruling party makes provocative remarks to lure them into jeopardizing the parliamentary session in which the vote on the impeachment bill is to take place.

Chung Chang-wha, floor leader of the opposition, said: "If the bill gets cancelled because of the ruling party's interruption, then we will not participate in drafting the next year's budget and in reviewing the spending of public funds." He added that his party will re-kindle the impeachment motion in the future if it fails this time.

A dispute among the United Liberal Democrats continued as its de facto leader, Kim Jong-pil, expressed opposition to introducing the bill while a faction is adamant about voting on it.

by Park Sung-woo




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