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UNDP in Turmoil Over Primaries

Posted September. 21, 2007 07:43,   


Former Gyeonggi Governor Sohn Hak-kyu did not show up for a TV debate of United New Democratic Party (UNDP) presidential hopefuls, sending shockwaves through the party yesterday.

With the growing controversy surrounding the primary, and rumors of secret ties between Chung Dong-young and an alliance between Sohn Hak-kyu and Lee Hae-chan, the camps of the party’s presidential hopefuls are engaging in mudslinging. Efforts to resolve these issues by senior members of the party are not having much effect.

Secret pledges–

The head of Sohn’s election office, Kim Bu-gyeom, said yesterday, “Chung Dong-young needs to come clean on suspicions that he made a deal to hand over the party leadership to senior party member Kim Han-gil in exchange for Kim’s backing.”

Sohn’s camp believes that Kim and 14 of his close aides in the “Kim Han-gil Group” are mobilizing more than 10,000 people of Electoral College for Chung in exchange for party leadership for Kim and the party nomination of assembly candidates for other lawmakers in the group. The head of Lee’s election office Rhyu Si-min said on the same day, “Chung Dong-young and Kim Han-gil have caused the downfall of the Uri Party. If they made that arrangement, they will also ruin the UNDP.”

On the same day, senior members of the party, including Moon Hui-sang, Yu In-tae, Lee Mi-kyung, and Chung Dae-chul had a meeting on this issue at a hotel in Mapo-gu and reached an agreement, saying, “We should not turn a blind eye to this horrendous deal.”

Chung believes that pro-Roh lawmakers are trying to set the mood for a pro-Roh candidate to be elected. In other words, by seeming to lend support to Sohn during the primary, they are actually supporting Lee to become presidential candidate of the UNDP.

Extreme emotional conflict -

Chung raised issues with remarks by Rhyu on September 19, saying, “It’d be better to join forces with Sohn, not Chung.” and those of lawmaker Lee Gwang-jae, saying, “The primary should have Lee Hae-chan and Sohn Hak-kyu as major nominees, as they can muster votes from regions other than Jeolla Province.”

Spokesperson Kim Hyun-mi said, “Sohn Hak-kyu and Lee Hae-chan’s meeting has been confirmed. Those supporting the Sohn-Lee alliance want a candidate who is popular in other regions than Jeolla region, which is based on regionalism.” In regard to the alleged secret deal, she said, “It is a malicious rumor. A thorough investigation should find whoever spread the rumor and he or she should leave the political circle altogether.”

The vice chair of the national assembly Lee Yong-hui, an aide to Chung, responded to suspicions that he helped Chung win a landslide victory in the primary by mobilizing a great number of people from his constituencies of Okcheon, Boeun, Yeongdon, in a press conference at Jeongron Gwan, in the national assembly, saying, “If anyone presents evidence that that actually is true, then I will resign immediately.”

He said on the subject of targeting Lee’s aide Kim Jong-ryul, who suspected Lee of mobilizing buses full of people, that, “Some incompetent lawmaker made up the story because his constituency showed a lower voter turnout. It is purely his fault, but he’s insulting me for what he has done.”

Party leadership is trying to include Sohn –

The UNDP’s leadership was hurrying to resolve issues related to Sohn’s seclusion and other related issues. Yesterday, the party leadership convened an emergency meeting and decided to form a fair primary committee accepting the request of Sohn.

Sohn’s camp continued to argue and said, “The other nominees gave lunch and provided transportation to the people who were mobilized. While we succeeded in listing 3,000 people on the electorate, they were dropped because a local election oversight committee did not submit the list to the party central committee.