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Key member of progressive party rejects calls to step down

By 박민영

Published : May 19, 2012 - 13:28

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A key member of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party embroiled in the ongoing internal feud has made clear he has no intention of giving up his parliamentary seat, sources said Saturday.

   Talks to convince Lee Seok-gi to step down have made little
headway, according to Lee Jeong-mi, a spokeswoman for the party's
emergency committee set up to deal with allegations of widespread
irregularities in the selection of proportional lawmakers for the
April 11 ballot.

   "Lee (Seok-gi) held one-on-one talks with UPP's emergency
committee chairman Kang Ki-kab for three hours late Friday but the
meeting only showed the difference in views of the two men on this
critical matter," the party official said.

   She also said Kang was unable to get a reply from Lee on the
issue of resignation, which the UPP said is a prerequisite for
resolving the scandal that has caused the party's public support to
crumble.

   Lee is one of 14 party members who participated in the primary
for proportional representation candidates. Six were elected as UPP
lawmakers under the proportional representation system, which
allocates seats to parties according to the numbers of votes they
receive. Since allegations emerged about irregularities and
systematic vote manipulation, most candidates have resigned.

   Related to Lee's refusal to step down, UPP sources said that
they are now forced to take steps to eject Lee and another
candidate Kim Jae-yeon, who has also declined to give up her seat.

If they do not resign, they will become lawmakers on May 30.

   The party has already asked Lee and Kim to step down by May 21
or be expelled from the party altogether. Such a move, however,
could result in the split up of the five-month-old party since
supporters of Lee may bolt with the candidate. (Yonhap News)