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Uri Lawmakers May Leave Party En Masse

Posted February. 05, 2007 03:00,   


As Uri Party representatives are expected to defect from party en masse, the political circle, including the ruling camp, is paying keen attention to the possible political ripples that the division of the ruling party would bring.

Uri Party Rep. Jung Sung-ho (from Yangju, Gyeonggi Province) became the sixth defector from the party yesterday. Cheong Wa Dae remains silent about the accelerating division of the ruling party, which made the Grand National Party doubt if such a move is a thoroughly planned “show.”

February 6 or 7 will be D-day for an en masse secession-

Jung said yesterday, “I already let my fellow representatives know about my will to leave the party on February 3 at a party meeting,” adding, “I’ll submit a written report for my secession.” He also said that he would conduct policy activities with Chun Jung-bae and Choi Jae-cheon who already defected the party. Another Uri Rep. Je Jong-geel (from Ansan, Gyeonggi Province) also said yesterday, “I’ll leave the party soon.”

Those who are driving the en-masse secession, including Kim han-gill and Kang, Bong-kyun, who were former leading members of the party, contacted lawmakers weighing defection and persuaded them to leave altogether. They will reportedly set either February 6 or 7 as their “D-day.” A major representative of the party said, “It is highly likely that a massive secession will happen on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

There are reportedly enough lawmakers who will leave the party to form a floor negotiation group, which requires at least 20 lawmakers. But some predict that the time of secession could be delayed if the number of defecting lawmakers is fewer than 20.

Against this backdrop, the party leadership and centrist lawmakers made an all-out effort to retain those who are to defect.

Uri Party Chairman Kim Geun-tae held a party meeting in Yeosu, Jeonnam Province yesterday and said, “I’m confident that there will be no secession to the extent division of division of the party.” Chang Young-dal, the new floor leader, said in a press conference that day, “It is time for the Uri Party to unite, rather than defecting.”

Chung Sye-kyun, who is highly likely to be appointed as the next party chairman, is reportedly soothing party members, saying, “I’ll launch a new party which encompasses various sects at the earliest possible time if I become the party leader.”

The silent Cheong Wa Dae-

Cheong Wa Dae has not released any official response to the ruling party’s move. A senior government official said yesterday, “There is no change in President Roh Moo-hyun’s position that he is against the dissolving of the Uri Party,” but added, “There is no message from Cheong Wa Dae about the situation for the time being.”

Experts say that such a response is based on the calculation that there is no need for Cheong Wa Dae to stimulate those who seek to leave the party. Some say that the presidential office might consider that a response from the president or the presidential office might leave smaller room to maneuver to the party leadership and centrist lawmakers who are trying to persuade their fellow lawmakers to stay.

President Roh is likely to mention the defection issue at the luncheon meeting with the party leadership on February 6.

A “planned fake divorce”-

The Grand National Party accused the massive party defection of being a “thoroughly planned fake divorce.”

Yu Gi-jun, a GNP spokesperson, said, “It is an ugly tactic to prolong the party’s political life through a fake defection,” adding, “I wonder if the Uri Party resorts to some expedient in which the members leave the party and form a new negotiation group to get some money from the national treasury to use in the presidential election, since it faces difficulty collecting party membership fees.”

GNP Rep. Chun, Yu-Ok said, “The Uri Party is aiming at a turnaround by dissolving itself into a couple of negotiation groups and appointing a single presidential candidate through an open primary,” adding, “The party is planning a fake drama to reverse the situation as it did in 2002. But it will be hard to be very successful, since people have already watched a similar show.”