DP says will elect Assembly speaker next week

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) on Thursday said it will elect a new National Assembly speaker next week amid an impasse in negotiations with the ruling People Power Party (PPP) over how to share parliamentary committees.

The DP, which holds 170 out of 299 assembly seats, said it will select a new speaker on its own at a plenary session on Monday, urging the PPP to make concessions in the stalled negotiations to form parliamentary committees.

Using its majority power, the DP originally sought for holding a plenary session on Friday to elect the speaker without the PPP's consent, citing the need to end the legislation vacuum amid rising economic and security woes in the country.

"After discussions with our lawmakers, we decided to wait for the PPP's concessions and continue negotiations," DP floor leader Park Hong-geun said.

The impasse in committee formation negotiations has left the Assembly idling for almost a month, forcing a halt in legislations and Cabinet member confirmation hearings.

In an effort to break the deadlock, the DP offered last week to hand over the chairmanship of the judiciary committee, a key Assembly panel that has the power to approve bills before they are put to a plenary vote, to the PPP in exchange for the PPP's cooperation for the launch of a special committee on judiciary reform.

But the PPP rejected the proposal because the special committee is aimed at completing the process of reducing and ultimately abolishing the prosecution's investigative powers in accordance with recently enacted prosecution reform laws, which the ruling bloc has opposed.

The DP's push to hold a plenary session and select a new speaker with its majority power is "against the law," Rep. Song Eon-seog, the PPP's deputy floor leader, said, adding the party will review taking legal measures.

Source: Yonhap News Agency