SEOUL, The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) took to the streets Saturday to launch an all-out protest against a joint move by ruling and other rival political parties to fast-track key bills, including an electoral reform.
LKP legislators and party members, wearing red T-shirts with the message, "We will fight till the end" written on them, gathered in central Seoul's Gwanghwamun Square for the demonstration.
The LKP put the estimate of attendees at Saturday's rally at 50,000.
LKP leader Hwang Kyo-ahn took the podium and made a resounding speech lashing out at the liberal Moon Jae-in government and the ruling Democratic Party (DP) as those who "try to use the fast-track to their own advantage" so as to gain an upper hand in next year's parliamentary elections.
"We're waging a fair struggle so as to derail this barbaric fast-track action," he said.
LKP floor leader Na Kyung-won also had her turn at the podium, condemning the move as "an act by the leftists that gravely undermines parliamentary democracy and the Constitution."
"The leftists are trying to wipe out this country's free democracy. They have humiliated the National Assembly that represents our people," she shouted. "The electoral (reform) bill is a tool they need to extend their terms in power for as long as they want."
Four parties, not including the LKP, agreed Monday to a package deal to fast-track bills on electoral reform, the establishment of a special unit to investigate alleged corruption by high-ranking public officials and enhancement of the police's authority to conduct probes.
The National Assembly can designate a bill that fails to get bipartisan support for a long period as a fast-track proposal if three-fifths of lawmakers in a parliamentary committee approve the move. This is designed to prevent a certain proposal from remaining pending for too long.
The row has turned into an ugly scuffle. On Friday, LKP members physically, and with office equipment, such as copy machines, blocked the entry to the assembly office where the plenary meeting was to be held. Nail pullers and iron hammers were brought in to smash down the doors.
Saturday's street demonstration is the LKP's second protest following last week's rally.
The LKP expressed its firm intent to continue its fight. A 102-team of its legislators will be running a round-the-clock standby to deter the DP-led coalition from passing the bills, it said.
Source: Yonhap news Agency