Sewol law negotiations at standstill

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Sewol law negotiations at standstill

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Relatives of the ferry Sewol victims and survivors hold a press conference yesterday at the National Assembly to express their opinions over the renegotiation of the special Sewol law. [NEWS1]

The New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) and the ruling Saenuri Party remained at loggerheads yesterday after the main opposition reneged on an agreement made last week on the specifics of a special law investigating the main cause of the Sewol ferry disaster in April.

No further talks to narrow down their differences had been arranged or scheduled as of press time yesterday.

Today is the date the parties agreed on Thursday to put the special law to a parliamentary vote. The NPAD changed its position on Monday, however, calling on the ruling party to return to the negotiating table for further adjustments on the specifics of the law.

Representative Park Young-sun, the main opposition’s acting chairwoman, came out demanding additional points be reworked to iron out differences following a general party meeting on Monday at the National Assembly.

During the session, which lasted more than three hours, hard-line opposition lawmakers lambasted Park and others involved in the two-party discussions for giving in too much to the Saenuri’s demands.

The fact that it was Representative Park herself who was able to reach a middle ground on Thursday with her Saenuri counterpart Lee Wan-koo has sparked strong backlash from the ruling party, which called the opposition’s call for additional talks “shocking” and politically unethical.

“The opposition’s demand [for further talks] is a breach of our agreement, a decision that should not have been made in a politically ethical sense,” said Saenuri spokesman Park Dae-chul.

In last week’s arrangement, both parties agreed that a seven-member recommendation committee would nominate two candidates for special prosecutor who would be tasked with overseeing a special investigative team. The final candidate would then be appointed by President Park Geun-hye.

Representative Park’s consensus on the nomination process for a special prosecutor drew strong protest from her fellow party members as well as the bereaved families of the Sewol ferry victims, who believe a special prosecutor appointed by the president would not be able to avoid pressure or intervention from the Blue House.

For that reason, the line-up for the recommendation committee has emerged as a key issue in discussions should the Saenuri return to the negotiating table. By law, three of the seven members on the recommendation committee would come from the Ministry of Justice, the National Court Administration and the Korean Bar Association. Two would come from the Saenuri and two others from the NPAD.

The opposition also demanded yesterday that it be allowed to send three committee members, rather than two, which would reduce the Saenuri’s influence and expand its authority in the selection of the two candidates for special prosecutor.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]





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