Rival parties reach agreement on parliamentary committee formation

SEOUL– The ruling and main opposition parties reached agreement Friday on how to share parliamentary committee chairmanships, paving the way for the National Assembly to go into operation after 53 days of idling.

Under the agreement, the ruling People Power Party (PPP) took seven committees, including the judiciary, intelligence and public administration committees, while the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) took 11 committees, including the national policy and science committees.

One of the sticking points in committee formation talks was which party will take the chairmanships of the science and public administration committees. Under Friday’s deal, the two sides agreed to alternately hold the chairmanships for one year each.

Regarding the launch of a special committee on judiciary reform — which had been another stumbling block in the talks — the parties agreed to hand over the chairmanship to the DP and fill the 12-member committee with six lawmakers from each party.

The rival parties also agreed to launch two special committees to review reform agendas in political policy and the pension system. The committees will be respectively chaired by the DP and PPP.

The standstill in committee formation negotiations had left the Assembly idling for more than a month and a half, forcing a halt in legislation and Cabinet member confirmation hearings. Some minister-level officials were appointed without the hearings.

On Friday, Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, acting chair and floor leader of the PPP, and Rep. Park Hong-keun, floor leader of the DP, reached a final agreement in a meeting chaired by National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo.

“Not all the details of the agreement are satisfactory for both parties, but we reached an agreement on the consensus that we should quickly wrap up parliamentary committee formations and deal with livelihood issues,” Kweon told reporters after the meeting.

“It seems the agreement turned out to be fair for both sides,” he said. “Since we are the ruling party, we secured the chairmanships for committees key to running state affairs.”

The DP floor leader said his party wanted to chair both the science and public administration committees but proposed holding the chairmanships alternately, as “the people wanted the National Assembly to run normally soon.”

“I felt we needed Solomon’s wisdom.”

The parties finalized the agreement and selected committee chairs during a plenary meeting of the National Assembly later Friday.

Next week, the parties will hold a three-day interpellation session, where they are expected to clash on issues, like national security, the economy and hiring controversies at the presidential office.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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