Go to contents

Candidate’s Remarks Split Ruling Party

Posted May. 15, 2006 03:10,   


The upcoming May 18 is the anniversary of the Gwangju democratic movement and also the kickoff of official election campaign for the May 31 local elections, and both the Uri Party and Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) plan to hold large-scale events in Gwangju on May 18 to capture the minds of voters in the region.

In the middle of all this, the Uri Party’s nomination for Gwangju mayor candidate and Representative Lee Won-young’s comments on soldiers being dispatched to Gwangju during the democratic movement are the main political points of dispute.

Controversy Over the Gwangju Mayor Candidate Nomination—

On May 14, the Uri Party’s Supreme Committee decided to nominate former head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination Cho Young-taek for Gwangju mayor candidate.

The superficial reason for the nomination is that unhampered preliminary elections were impossible because the other candidate, Gwangju City Uri Party Chairman Kim Jae-gyun, disclosed an agreement on public opinion polls, opening the possibility of non-partisan voters of the Uri Party choosing another candidate.

However, within the party there was criticism, “The party’s leadership that acquired former chief Cho for Gwangju mayor candidate after undergoing intensive persuasion, renounced the principle of preliminary’s by selecting him as the party’s candidate.”

It is reported that Uri Party Supreme Commissioner Kim Geun-tae argued at a Supreme Committee meeting held on May 12 that “preliminary elections should be conducted according to principles,” and then stomped out of the room.

Will Uri Party Succeed in Controlling Damage Caused by Representative Lee’s Comment?—

In a Supreme Committee meeting held on the same day, Uri Party stripped Representative Lee’s of the Human Rights Committee Chairman post and decided to submit him to the party’s Ethics Committee.

Uri Party Spokesperson Woo Sang-ho apologized, “Representative Lee’s comments are wrong, and we are sorry to cause anguish to the people who cherish the May 18 democratic movement.”

Representative Lee himself visited Gwangju on May 14 and said, “I express my deepest apologizes and regret my imprudent comments to the people of Gwangju and democratic activists who perished for democratization.”

On May 12, during a PBC radio show, he explained the difference between soldiers being deployed to Pyeongtaek, where demonstrations opposing the relocation of USFK bases are taking place, and the May 18 Gwangju democratic movement, “In Gwangju soldiers were deployed to maintain order, while soldiers are deployed to Pyeongtaek in order to protect a military facility, so both deployments are different in nature.”

Nevertheless, the MDP criticized, “The comments of Representative Lee are nonsense that justify the May 18 massacre ordered by forces that seized power through a military coup,” and demanded the resignation of Representative Lee from his National Assembly seat and the apology of Chairman Chung Dong-young.

Everybody Headed to Gwangju—

Uri Party Chairman Chung requested his party’s lawmakers to attend the May 17 ceremony and the May 18 anniversary ceremony.

As for the MDP, on May 17 Chairman Hahn Hwa-kap and other party leaders and local election candidates will hold a massive ceremony at the National May 18 Democratic Cemetery and attend the official ceremony on May 18.