Facing ultimatum, Democrats stop Assembly boycott

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Facing ultimatum, Democrats stop Assembly boycott


Democratic Party lawmakers yesterday remove mats and clean the main lobby of the Assembly conference hall where they had been staging sit-in protests since June 23 after the party leaders made a decision to resume legislative activities in the Assembly. [NEWSIS]

Ending days of political standoff, the main opposition Democratic Party announced yesterday it would resume legislative activities at the National Assembly.

After an internal meeting attended by its senior officials, the Democratic Party concluded that its members should return to the main chamber to fight the ruling Grand National Party over contentious bills. After the decision, DP lawmakers withdrew their sit-in protests from the main lobby of the Assembly conference hall, which they had occupied since June 23.

Since the June Assembly session opened belatedly on June 26, Democratic Party lawmakers have boycotted legislative activities and have wrangled with the Grand National Party over the non-regular worker and media reform bills.

The DP came under pressure last week when the GNP issued an ultimatum on the media reform measures. Na Kyung-won, a GNP lawmaker who sits on the National Assembly’s Committee on Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications, said the bills had to be voted on at the standing committee today.

Also, Kim Hyung-o, the National Assembly speaker, said he would use his executive authority to introduce the bills directly for voting during the June session if the committee failed to make progress.

The June session ends July 25. Kim had previously asked the two sides to narrow their differences, only to be snubbed by both parties.

The Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun said in a press conference that the party will discuss plans to help normalize the National Assembly and said the DP wanted to stop the GNP from “taking advantage of the stalled assembly to pass the evil laws.” Told that the DP gained next to nothing from its standoff, Chung responded that this is no time to play the blame game within the party.

“There are historically significant tasks at hand. We have to stop these evil media laws and help resolve problems concerning our people’s standards of living,” Chung said.

“We won’t waste our energy pointing fingers at each other. [Returning to the National Assembly] is the best course of action we can take now. We agreed that we have to fulfill our obligations and carry on with our fights at the same time.”

The GNP called the DP’s decision “an appropriate move” but wondered about the party’s true intentions.

“We hope to discuss a number of issues with them with sincerity,” said the GNP spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun. “I hope this isn’t part of the DP’s strategy to once again delay the National Assembly session. This should be about doing what has to be done at the legislature.”

By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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