Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (L) and the main opposition People Power Party chief Lee Jun-seok pose for photos during their meeting at the National Assembly in southwestern Seoul. (Yonhap)
Conflict between main opposition party leader Lee Jun-seok and campaigners for the party’s leading presidential contender, Yoon Seok-youl, is flaring up again as Yoon fails to control his camp.
A special adviser to Yoon called on Lee to step down as chairman of the People Power Party and join the camp of Yoo Seong-min, another presidential hopeful in the party, whom Lee is close to.
Min Young-sam wrote on Facebook on Sunday that Lee should resign, support Yoo and say whatever he wants or do silent meditation until the presidential election next year.
Min’s comments followed a news report on Friday that some people in Yoon’s camp were considering overthrowing the 36-year-old party leader and seeking an interim leader.
Min resigned from the camp later on Sunday, just four days after joining, saying he had merely expressed his own views and they were unrelated to the campaign.
A group of Yoon’s supporters also said they would hold a rally Monday afternoon calling for Lee’s resignation, and Yoon’s supporters asked them not to.
Yoon denied scheming to oust Lee, saying the allegations were nonsense.
While Yoon continues to act as if nothing has happened, people within his camp have expressed discontent at what they say is Lee’s lack of respect for the opposition’s most popular candidate, who joined the party after months of contemplation.
The two sides appeared to have settled discord stoked by Yoon’s boycott of party events when the party’s supreme council decided to cancel a debate planned by its primary preparation committee last week.
Officials in Yoon’s camp raised objections to the debate, citing “procedural problems,” but Yoon’s rivals said the former prosecutor general, who just entered politics, wants to avoid debates because he is not ready.
Lee said in a radio interview Saturday that he had waited to start the “primary bus” in late August, but people “plucked out the steering wheel, scrawled over it with paint and were smashing the chairs.”
On Monday Lee apologized for “all the feuding and misunderstandings within the party in the course of preparations for the primary.”
Yoon’s rivals running for the party’s presidential candidacy blasted him for shaking the party leadership.
Former legislator Yoo urged Yoon to apologize, saying it was hard to understand how his campaign officials’ constant provocations could be possible without the candidate’s approval.
“How does he plan to be president when he can’t lead his own camp properly?” Yoo said Monday.
He said earlier that if the Lee Jun-seok leadership collapsed, the presidential election would go out the window.
Former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong said in a recent media interview that Yoon was “making factions, not policies.”
Commenting on the news that Yoon was recruiting alumni from the National Police Academy, Won said he was afraid the ex-chief prosecutor might be seeking “a more systemized privatization of agencies of power under the pretext that he was oppressed by the (Moon Jae-in) administration.”
Ex-chief state auditor Choe Jae-hyeong’s special media adviser urged Yoon to stop talking through his aides and “get a hold of his own camp.”
“Everyone is watching the Yoon Seok-youl camp shake the party and the party leader. Who are they trying to deceive?” Choe’s adviser said Monday.
“We really hope (the report on) Yoon’s camp’s review of an interim leadership is fake news.”
Choe slammed Yoon for “shaking a young leader with old political maneuvers.”
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com