Vote on prime minister nominee set for today

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Vote on prime minister nominee set for today

The ruling and opposition parties agreed Wednesday to vote this morning on a resolution to confirm President Park Geun-hye’s nomination of Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn as prime minister.

Deputy floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) sat down for final negotiations Wednesday morning and struck a deal to hold a plenary session at 10 a.m. today. Saenuri Rep. Cho Hae-jin and NPAD Rep. Lee Chun-seok agreed that the resolution to confirm Hwang as the new prime minister will be voted on.

They also agreed to elect chairmen to head the National Assembly’s special committee on budget and accounts, ethics committee and intelligence committee during the session.

Monday was the statutory deadline to confirm the prime minister nomination, but the NPAD refused to vote. The main opposition party said Hwang had failed to provide sufficient explanations during a confirmation hearing earlier this month to disprove suspicions that he dodged the draft, evaded taxes and was awarded a plum job with a law firm after retiring from the prosecution.

In Wednesday’s final negotiation, the Saenuri and NPAD agreed that Hwang would issue an apology on the concerned issues. They also agreed to create a subcommittee in the legislature to improve the process of confirmation hearings.

The ruling and opposition parties also agreed to delay the National Assembly’s hearings to question government ministries by one day, so they will start Friday.

“Floor leader Yoo Seong-min [of the Saenuri Party] promised that Hwang will explain his position at an appropriate time,” Cho said. “We also pointed out numerous times that confirmation hearing processes should be improved, so we will further discuss the issue.”

Lee said the NPAD should head the subcommittee to improve the confirmation hearing process and he already told his Saenuri counterpart about the proposal.

The prime minister position has been vacant since Park accepted the resignation of Lee Wan-koo, who stepped down over a payoff scandal on April 27. After nearly a month of deliberation, Park nominated Justice Minister Hwang to the post on May 21.

Hwang, 58, a former prosecutor with a record for pursuing anti-state crimes, joined the Park administration as justice minister in March 2013 when the president first created her cabinet. He is one of the few ministers to survive the administration’s frequent reshuffles.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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