SEOUL, South Korea -- Kim Dae Jung ended a 13-day hunger strike Saturday, saying his struggle forced the government and the ruling party to heed opposition political demands.
The main opposition leader decided to call off his protest fast after members of his Party for Peace and Democracy urged him to do so in a resolution.
Kim started his hunger strike Oct. 8, demanding that the government drop an attempt to shift to a parliamentary cabinet form of government through constitutional change, implement local self-rule as promised, and keep the military from politics.
The 65-year-old politician started the fast at his party headquarters, and was moved to a hospital a week later as his health declined. He continued the hunger strike at the hospital. About 30 lawmakers of his party staged a protest fast of their own.
In a statement from his hospital bed, Kim said the struggle staged by himself and his followers gathered 'considerable' fruit.
'We made the government and the ruling party to actively respond to our demands,' Kim said. 'We must continue our struggle until we achieve our goals fully.'
Kim's party has boycotted Parliament since July protesting the legislation of 26 constroversial laws. Kim demanded new elections to form a new legislature saying the present Parliament went against popular wishes.
Kim later said his party will return to the parliamentary floors if the government promises not to push constitutional amendment for a parliamentary cabinet system and implement local autonomy as had been agreed on between the ruling party and the opposition.
Kim, who ran and lost to President Roh Tae-woo in December 1987, wants to have another shot at the presidency under the current constitution, which gives full government powers to the president. He said he believes local self-rule will bolster support for his party.
Kim Young-sam, No. 2 leader of the ruling Democratic Liberal Party, visited Kim Friday last week and said the government will not push a parliamentary cabinet system overriding the opposition.
Government and opposition floor leaders began negotiations on the local autonomy issue, and the ruling party said it will accommodate opposition demands as much as possible.
Knotty issues still remain to be settled. Kim Dae Jung demands that political parties take part in local elections for posts at all levels including those in the smallest administrative units. The government opposes the idea, which it says is certain to overheat the political atmosphere.
Even so, Kim's decision to end his protest fast was a relief to the ruling party and the government, which hope to settle the 3-month-old political impasse through government-opposition dialogue.