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Published : 2014-04-07 21:09
Updated : 2014-04-07 21:09

The outlook for the row over abolishing the candidate nomination system for local elections worsened Monday with President Park Geun-hye declining to meet with the main opposition leader.

On Friday, New Politics Alliance for Democracy cochairman Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo went to Cheong Wa Dae to personally request a meeting with the president, pressing the main opposition’s claim that she should take direct responsibility for keeping her election pledge. 
Ahn Cheol-soo (left) and Kim Han-gil, co-leaders of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, discuss party strategies after Cheong Wa Dae refused to have talks with opposition leaders on Monday. (Yonhap)

However, President Park Geun-hye turned down the request through her senior presidential political affairs secretary Park Joon-woo, who met with NPAD cochairmen Reps. Ahn Cheol-soo and Kim Han-gil on Monday.

According to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Min Kyung-wook, Park Joon-woo conveyed the president’s message, saying that meeting with NPAD leaders would damage her political neutrality.

“With the elections looming, the president meeting with the opposition leader would cause political controversy,” Min quoted Park as saying, using the president’s words. The political affairs secretary also told the NPAD leaders that the president was open to meeting with them over issues concerning people’s livelihoods and national interests after the June 4 elections.

In response, the NPAD chairmen said that there was nothing new in his message and that they had nothing more to say, NPAD spokesman Geum Tae-sub said.

Geum also quoted Ahn as saying that nobody would make an issue of a meeting between the president and opposition leaders.

While the presidential office opted not to maintain its silence, which the NPAD called a “declaration of war against the people,” the main opposition is now left without an exit from the situation.

The ruling Saenuri Party has long since backtracked on the president’s pledge to abolish the system. The NPAD is sticking to the promise, but is said to be seeing opposition from party members who claim that forgoing nominations would further weaken the party against the ruling party.

The Saenuri Party attacked the main opposition party by accusing it of political scheming.

“It is nothing but a shallow and transparent move which the two chairmen are dragging the president into to avoid a crisis,” Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan said Monday. Choi claimed that Ahn and Kim backed themselves into a corner by abolishing the nomination system despite opposition from party members.

He added that the NPAD was practicing the “politics of threats” and questioned the party’s intentions behind taking the issue to the president and ignoring the ruling party.

“Ignoring the ruling party and calling only for a discussion with the president is incapacitating the National Assembly.”

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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