Main opposition party ends boycott of parliament

SEOUL, The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Monday ended its more than onemonth boycott of parliamentary activities.

The National Assembly has been idle since Jan. 24 amid tensions over a raft of allegations of government abuse of power, a controversial appointment and a former ruling party lawmaker's purchases of properties in cultural zones.

"We've decided to open the National Assembly. We will submit a request to convene the National Assembly today," LKP floor leader Na Kyungwon told a press conference.

"As a responsible opposition party, we've made the decision because we have nothing to expect from the ruling Democratic Party (DP)," she added.

Earlier in the day, the floor leaders of the DP and two opposition parties met but failed to reach an agreement to normalize the parliament.

"We'll do our best for the swift passage of bills on the economy and various reforms in a March session," DP floor leader Hong Youngpyo told reporters.

The National Assembly is supposed to open an extraordinary session in March to deal with scores of pending bills, mostly related to the economy, labor and interKorean affairs.

But hurdles for the smooth operation of the March session remain as the parties differ on major issues, such as how to handle allegations of real estate speculation by Rep. Sohn Hyewon.

The LKP has called for a parliamentary probe into Sohn, who left the ruling party in January as she fought conservatives' various attacks, including an allegation that she, along with relatives and aides, made speculative real estate purchases in Mokpo, 410 kilometers southwest of Seoul, now a cultural heritage district. Sohn said they bought rundown buildings with historic values to protect them against developers.

The ruling party demanded the parliamentary probe be expanded to other conflict of interest cases, some involving LKP lawmakers.

The parties also sparred over the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae's alleged abuse of power and surveillance of civilians.

A former government official, who claims to be a public interest whistleblower, alleged in December that the presidential office exerted inappropriate influence on the country's tobacco maker and the finance ministry.

An exspecial inspector also made allegations that Cheong Wa Dae ordered him to spy on civilians while he worked at the office. President Moon Jaein's office flatly denied the allegations.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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