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Political parties to lock horns over presidential election controversy, budget issues

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- Ruling and opposition parties are expected to lock horns over the controversy surrounding last year's presidential election and the passage of the 2014 budget.

Parliamentary sources said that this week will likely bring a spike in clashes between the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party (DP).

The DP is moving to form an alliance with progressive civic groups and independent lawmaker Ahn Chul-soo to get the ruling camp to appoint a special prosecutor to check into allegations that the country spy agency, military, and the Patriots and Veterans Affairs Ministry interfered in the presidential race in favor of the President Park Geun-hye, who took office in February.

The presidential official of Cheong Wa Dae and Saenuri brushed off such allegations as willful misinterpretations and exaggerations of illegal actions taken by a handful of people. The conservative party countered with its own claims that the 140,000-strong Korean Government Employees' Union (KGEU) systematically supported the DP's candidate Moon Jae-in the critical race.

Under South Korean law, employees of the National Intelligence Service, the military and the KGEU are barred from openly taking sides in elections.

In response, the DP said it has little faith in the state prosecutor's office to conduct a fair probe and has hinted it could boycott the budget review process if suspicions of election interference are not fully answered.

If this occurs, the budget may not be passed within the year, which could cause complications for the running of the country and raise social uncertainty that is not good for the economy.

There have also been speculations that opposition party lawmakers may not attend President Park's speech at the National Assembly set for mid-Nov., which could further strain the political climate and hinder talks.

Besides this standoff, the move by state prosecutors to summon three Saenuri lawmakers for the release of confidential documents related to the 2007 inter-Korean summit can trigger renewed political infighting.

Saenuri argued that then-President Roh Moo-hyun effectively "surrendered" the sea demarcation line in the Yellow Sea to the North, and the late chief executive and his aides tried to cover it up by hiding documents. The DP said all such allegations are untrue and are political motivated to tarnish Roh and the opposition party.

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