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DP, Ahn appear at odds over new party launch

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Published : 2014-03-05 20:11
Updated : 2014-03-05 20:12

Leaders from the major opposition bloc on Wednesday appeared to have differing ideas on the course of setting up rules for the new party, which they have agreed to launch ahead of the local elections in June.

Democratic Party chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil reiterated that he has no intention of beginning a tug-of-war contest to secure more candidates from his side for the June 4 local elections. Independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo, meanwhile, urged the main opposition party to drop its demands for a larger stake.

It was reported that some DP members have raised concerns that offering equal stakes to Ahn’s group would be inappropriate for the main opposition party, which already has 126 incumbent seats in parliament. Ahn is the only elected lawmaker from his group.

“We won’t join in the tug-of-war over candidate selection. We have agreed to select the best candidates regardless of (our) stake (at the new party),” Kim said during a joint meeting held by Ahn’s support group.

“We were able to work together only because the DP agreed to abolish the candidate nomination system for local elections … (the DP) needs to give up more,” Ahn said.
Democratic Party chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil (left) talks with independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo at a joint meeting held to discuss the launch of a new party at the National Assembly on Wednesday. (Lee Gil-dong/The Korea Herald)

It was the first meeting jointly held by the two sides after they announced a surprise merger plan on Sunday.

The two opposition leaders agreed to forge an alliance to challenge the ruling camp and abolish the candidate nomination system for lower-level administration chiefs and councilors as part of their political reform efforts.

The new party will be formed with the unified aim of winning a transfer of power in the next presidential election and taking a majority of seats at the National Assembly, they said.

Reports of the DP bickering with Ahn’s group, however, spread fast on Wednesday afternoon after Ahn’s aide said he would reconsider attending a planned meeting with his counterparts.

“We were scheduled to meet around 5 p.m. But I think I should think about that again,” said Kim Hyo-seok, a member of the task force team set up for the launch of the new party.

“We have reasons to do so. We need things to coordinate,” he said.

The two sides were widely expected to face a bumpy road ahead in negotiations over the new party’s goals and policies, amid growing internal discord over the merger plan.

Some DP members are reportedly demanding Ahn’s supporters form a new party by themselves and then merge with the DP. Ahn’s group, meanwhile, has urged DP members to dissolve their party first and then individually join the new party, in fear of being absorbed into the main opposition party.

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

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