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Feud-ridden Saenuri to elect floor leader in May

The ruling conservative Saenuri Party, reeling after last week’s parliamentary election debacle, has decided to elect new leadership next month through an official primary, officials said Thursday.

Rep. Won Yoo-chul, whose interim leadership has triggered backlash within the party, is to serve as acting chairman until then.

“The party’s floor leadership and policy committee have tentatively agreed to hold a primary on May 9 to elect a new floor leader,” said a party official.

The elected top official is likely to play the double role of floor leader and emergency committee chairman, replacing current floor leader Won and former party chief Rep. Kim Moo-sung.

After the party suffered a crushing defeat in the April 13 general election, failing to secure its parliamentary majority and losing in most of the Seoul constituencies, Kim resigned from chairmanship, taking responsibility for the results.

The Supreme Council immediately tapped floor leader Won to replace the interim chief. But the decision was faced with fierce criticism that Won, member of the former leadership and close aide to President Park Geun-hye, should also be held accountable and would not properly reflect the party’s renewal efforts.
Saenuri interim chief Rep. Won Yoo-chul bows to greet the party’s senior advisors during a luncheon in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Saenuri interim chief Rep. Won Yoo-chul bows to greet the party’s senior advisors during a luncheon in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
“The Saenuri’s self-reflection and reform should start from abolishing factional divisions within the party,” former parliamentary speaker Kim Soo-han told Rep. Won on Thursday.

The party’s senior advisors met with Won, along with the party’s floor spokespersons Reps. Yu Eui-dong and Moon Jeong-lim, in a luncheon held to ease escalating leadership disputes.

“They advised us to hold an official voting process (for the incoming leadership) as soon as possible in order to put an end to the strife and to add speed to the party’s reform actions,” said Yu.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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