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Infighting Stalls UNDP Primary Race

Posted October. 08, 2007 08:05,   


The primary race to pick the presidential candidate of the United New Democratic Party (UNDP) is facing a crisis as an internal conflict between its presidential contenders deepens over the alleged illegal mobilization of voters for frontrunner Chung Dong-young, and as a police investigation is underway into the case.

Investigators from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency tried to search Chung`s campaign headquarters in Seoul yesterday as part of its investigation into identity theft, including President Roh’s, allegedly committed by Chung’s camp, but their attempt failed due to interference with Chung supporters.

Although former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan contended that the nomination race, scheduled for October 14, could be delayed until the investigation is complete, the party leadership announced it would hold the primary as scheduled.

Lee Gang-rae, Park Myeong-gwang, and Mun Hak-jin, joint chief campaign directors of Chung’s camp, said regarding the police investigation at a press conference on October 7, “The raid, which was mobilized by pro-Roh forces supporting Lee Hae-chan, was a move to frustrate Chung`s bid for the presidency.”

Kim Hyeon-mi, a spokesperson of Chung’s camp, also said, “We are well aware of the fact that the general director of the law enforcement agency was appointed to his position when Lee served as prime minister, and they have a close personal relationship,” implying that the former prime minister is likely wielding power through Commissioner General Lee Taek-soon, who graduated from the same high school Lee did.

Lee camp spokesperson Kim Hyung-Joo refuted the allegations, saying, “That is groundless, and Chung is diverting public attention to avoid responsibility for engaging in illegal activity.”

The Lee camp argues that since Chung’s aides blocked the police investigation, a joint speech session slated for October 8 should be canceled, and the one-off vote on October 14 should be also postponed.

Lawmaker Jeon Byeong-heon from the camp of Sohn Hak-kyu, former Gyeonggi governor, lashed out at Chung’s camp, saying, “We discovered evidence that Chung’s camp illegally mobilized voters for the party primary cut-off. We confirmed through telephone number ID checks that about 84,000 people were illegally registered as voters for the primary election.”

However, the Chung camp demanded a probe into the allegations that two rival contenders, Lee Hae-chan and Sohn Hak-kyu, also stole the names of several government officials, including Cha Ui-hwan, senior presidential secretary for innovation, and Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung for the primary.

An official of the National Election Commission, which is overseeing the primary for the UNDP, said, “It is hard to rule out the possibility of the duplication of votes in the one-off primary on October 14 and the mobile voting done by many election college members.” The UNDP earlier decided to hold mobile voting as well as the traditional primary voting to ease controversies over its Electoral College selection.