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Ahn begins mission to expand political base

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Published : 2014-02-17 20:05
Updated : 2014-02-17 20:17

Independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo speaks at an inaugural ceremony for the New Political Party on Monday. (Yonhap)

Independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo’s new political party held its first meeting with its founding members in Seoul, Monday, as part of efforts to expand its political support base and lay the ground for its planned establishment in March.

A total of 374 members from various fields of society officially adopted “New Political Party” as the party’s name and unanimously approved Ahn as the chairman of the central organizing committee of the envisioned party.

“To make a just society that has no privileges or violations of rules, the politics must have a systematic tool to achieve the goal,” Ahn said at the meeting. “The New Political Party will abolish old politics and unite the people with the ‘politics of life,’” he said at the convention, held three months after he announced the launch of a new party in November last year.

The convention, attended by founding members, is a prerequisite for forming a new political party in Korea. Under the law, a new political party must form a preparatory committee and hold a convention with its founding members before it submits an application to the National Election Commission for legal status as a political party. The committee said it planned to complete its registration on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The meeting held at Kim Koo Museum in central Seoul has also drawn keen interest from political circles as an announcement was expected at the event of the names of key figures likely to run in the upcoming local election in June.

The committee announced a list of 374 members from various fields of society, from the government, military, civic groups, media, schools and arts.

The preparatory committee of the envisioned party said the list includes figures with expertise and creativity.

The list of founding members includes former Finance Minister Kang Bong-kyun, former Home Affairs Minister Lee Geun-sik, and former lawmakers Ryu Geun-chan, Cho Bae-sook, Lee Yong-kyong and Kim Chang-soo. Former Vice Unification Minister Lee Bong-jo also joined Ahn’s new party.

Interest in Ahn and his new party has grown since the entrepreneur-turned-politician announced that he would establish a new party next month. The party plans to field candidates for key races in the local elections scheduled for June, which is likely to bring about a three-way competition with the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party.

Ahn’s preparatory committee announced last week that the new party would pursue a “politics of life” for the better welfare of the people, social unity and an end to the old politics of promise-breaking.

Ahn is the founder of Korea’s largest antivirus software firm, AhnLab. He was elected to parliament last year after dropping out of the 2012 presidential race to support the then-opposition candidate, Moon Jae-in.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)

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