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Internal Feuds Brewing over Party Nominations

Posted March. 13, 2008 03:06,   


Internal feuds in the United Democratic Party and the Grand National Party over the selection of candidates to run in the upcoming general elections are on the verge exploding.

Growing discontent in the UNP with the nomination screening committee flared at the news that former Uri Party Chairman Kim Geun-tae had failed to secure a nomination, on Wednesday.

UNP Secretary-General Shin Geh-ryoon, who is overseeing planning for the April general elections, told the press, “The screening committee decided to exclude former Chairman Kim because he received the lowest score in terms of participation for parliamentary activities.”

“The gap between the ideals of the committee and political realities was too big. This was inevitable for Kim because he had to serve as both health and welfare minister and party chairman.”

Shin said, “I have so far played a mediating role between the party and the screening committee. But I cannot sit idle any more. I have no choice but to bring the issue into the public sphere.”

There has been growing discontent within the party because screening committee chairman Park Jae-seung solely controls the results of polls and alone calculates the scores given by each screening committee member.

“Even the party leader has no clue why someone has been nominated or rejected,” said an official with the UNP.

A considerable number of the UNP Supreme Council members, including Kim Min-suk and Chung Kyun-hwan, also criticized the screening committee, saying that the committee’s procedures have been dictatorial and that the Supreme Council has become subordinate to the committee.

“I’m ready to fight,” said a UNP Supreme Council member.

Tensions are also escalating between UNP Co-chairmen Sohn Hak-kyu and Park Sang-cheon, and committee chairman Park Jae-seung.

Prior to the nomination of proportional representatives and strategic nominations for metropolitan areas, the two party leaders met Park Jae-seung on Tuesday to ask him to ease the so-called, “Rules Set by the Three Chairmen (the two UNP co-chairmen and screening committee chairman).” However, Park Jae-seung turned down their request.

Tensions are also mounting within the GNP ahead of Thursday’s announcement of the nomination list for the Gyeongsang provinces.

In a press conference held on Wednesday, former GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye said, “How could any nomination go so wrong as this one. If the nomination proceeds like this, the party will have a hard time staying united even after the election is over. I believe someone has to take responsibility for the crisis.”

Park expressed her displeasure with a media report claiming that GNP secretary-general Lee Bang-ho and a confidant of Park made a secret deal to replace 50 percent of incumbent lawmakers in Gyeongsang provinces with new faces. “I couldn’t hold back my anger to think that someone was toying with such an unthinkable plan. Secretary-general Lee must reveal with whom, among my confidants, he spoke with.”

Regarding her future plan of action, Park said, “I will decide it after watching the results of the nomination for Gyeongsang provinces.”

“You must know well that the nomination has not been fair. It would be only natural that trust has been damaged.”

In response, secretary-general Lee held a press conference at the party headquarters, saying, “I have not met nor made telephone conversation with any of Park’s confidants for a month. I talked to (Park’s former chief secretary) lawmaker Yoo Jeong-bok before the candidate selection process kicked off. But that’s about it.”

“Rumors that I agreed with someone (close to Park) and relayed the results, after visiting Cheong Wa Dae, are absolutely groundless.”