Political Blocs Press Their Offensives
▲ HEADACHE - President Lee Hoi-chang of the opposition Grand National Party (right) and party members pondering a solution to the latest political impasse gripping the nation. [By Kim Choon-sik]
Both the ruling and opposition camps renewed their bitter attacks on each other Friday as a prosecution probe into politicians who allegedly received funds from the national spy agency in the1996 general election accelerated.
The renewed ruling coalition, composed of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party and the United Liberal Democrats, agreed to approve the prosecution's request to arrest Rep. Kang Sam-jae. The vice president of the opposition party is one of the two key figures in the prosecution's probe.
The opposition Grand National Party responded that it will bar attempts to arrest a sitting lawmaker while the parliament is in session, even if it must use force.
Commenting on the president's New Year's press conference the day before, the opposition leader, Lee Hoi-chang, said, "President Kim Dae-jung's news conference, by renouncing dialogue and cooperation with the opposition, ensures confrontation.
"I will work with the public, rather than with the president, who has gone beyond the boundaries of common sense and strayed from the right path of leadership," Mr. Lee said.
He then sought the support of the opposition in a luncheon held with six former lawmakers against the offensive launched by the president.
The opposition party said that it will press ahead with outdoor rallies to denounce the ruling bloc next week in Seoul, Pusan and Taejon.
Meanwhile, the ruling coalition held its first joint policy committee meeting Friday.
Kim Joong-kwon, the ruling party chairman, met with Kim Chong-hoh, acting president of the United Liberal Democrats, and Prime Minister Lee Han-dong, a ULD-affiliated cabinet member.
The three senior officials later insisted that the arrest warrant for Mr. Kang should be passed "in light of the severity of the case."
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