Ruling, opposition parties agree to normalize parliament
Korea's ruling and opposition parties agreed Tuesday to reopen parliament after 17 days of deadlock that have drawn criticism from the public.
The Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) said they reached an understanding on outstanding issues that have held up normal parliamentary proceedings since Aug. 4.
Under the deal ironed out by deputy floor leaders from the two parties, there will be a formal review to determine the qualifications of Reps. Lee Seok-ki and Kim Jae-yeon, which could lead to the expulsion of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) members.
Lee and Kim have come under attack for having secured their parliamentary seats by unfair means. How to deal with the lawmakers has fueled infighting within the progressive UPP that could lead to a split up of the party.
Floor leaders also said they have reached an understanding to appoint a special prosecutor to look into allegations of illegal real estate transactions involving the purchase of a house in southern Seoul by President Lee Myung-bak. The home was purchased by Lee's son so it could be used as a retirement home for the chief executive after he steps down from office next February.
The special prosecutor, who will be able to conduct probes for up to 45 days, will be recommended by the DUP and appointed by the president. The two parties will hold a plenary session to pass the special prosecutor motion as well as the 2011 budget settlement account on Aug. 30.
In addition, Saenuri and DUP said they will pass a proposal to push forward a parliamentary probe to check allegations that the prime minister's office carried out illegal probes on civilians.
The two parties, meanwhile, said they have concurred on the timetable for parliamentary activities for September that include policy speeches by heads of the ruling and main opposition parties, an interpretation session, and confirmation hearing for three Constitutional Court justices.
Saenuri and the DUP said they plan to pass the 2013 government budget on Nov. 22 so it does not interfere with the presidential election slated for Dec. 19. (Yonhap)