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Rival parties reach agreement to normalize parliament after 42 day standstill Updated: 2018-05-15 10:03:36 KST


A sigh of relief at last.
Rival parties on Monday evening agreed to normalize parliamentary affairs, bringing an end to a period of paralysis that has lasted 42 days.
The agreement reached verbally as of now is as follows --
Rival lawmakers will vote on a bill calling for a special counsel investigation into an online opinion-rigging scandal as well as the government's extra budget bill -- all on Friday.
This is expected to somewhat calm a dispute over the manipulation scandal that's deepened the divide between rival parties.
The opinion rigging case revolves around a blogger, with ties to ruling party lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo -- who is known to have used a computer program to manipulate internet comments on political news articles with growing speculation the blogger may also have been engaged in other rigging activities in the run up to last year's presidential election.
Rival parties say they have also agreed on how to appoint the special prosecutor that will lead the probe.
The Korean Bar Association will recommend four candidates -- of which the opposition bloc will select two -- while the final pick will be made by President Moon Jae-in.
The special probe is expected to focus on whether there were other irregularities on top of the ones found during the police investigation as well as whether lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo was aware of the manipulation scheme or if he was involved in any way.

With that agreement in place, all parties were present for a plenary session to process the resignations of lawmakers running for the local elections.
Monday was the deadline to handle such resignations in order to hold by-elections for the vacant districts, on the same day as the local elections on June 13th.
Otherwise, by-elections would have been pushed back to April next year.

Although they've managed to get over one hurdle -- there's concern another tug of war is brewing this week as the rival parties go over of specifics of their agreement.
But pressure is mounting on the National Assembly at the same time with the public growing tired of the inactivity at parliament.
With local elections less than a month away eyes will be on how lawmakers make up for the six weeks they've lost and how much progress they make on the stack of agenda items that were put on hold.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.
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