Seoul council reapproves opening plaza to public rallies

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Seoul council reapproves opening plaza to public rallies

The Seoul Metropolitan Council yesterday again approved a bill on opening Seoul Plaza, in front of City Hall, to public rallies.

The action was taken despite objections by Mayor Oh Se-hoon.

The reform bill was passed in a plenary session of the opposition-led Seoul city council with the full support of its members affiliated with the main opposition Democratic Party (DP).

Out of 110 council members present at the voting, 80 members approved the bill, 28 objected and 2 abstained.

Last month, the council voted in favor of the new municipal ordinance allowing citizens to hold events, rallies and gatherings for public purposes at the plaza without prior permission from the city government.

Citizens previously needed prior approval from the city, a requirement that heavily limited the staging of political rallies at the plaza.

The revision was sent back to the council after Oh, re-elected on the ruling Grand National Party’s ticket in the June 2 local elections, demanded a new vote on the bill Monday.

Oh argued that the revised ordinance clashes with a higher law requiring prior permission from authorities for use of public facilities such as roads and parks.

The move pitted the opposition-controlled local council against the mayor.

Before the new vote, the DP claimed that Oh’s demand for reconsideration was driven by purely political reasons and that the city should ensure the people’s rights to freedom of assembly.

The mayor is required by law to proclaim the re-endorsed bill in 10 days. But the Seoul city government plans, however, to appeal to the Supreme Court. Yonhap

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