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2 Heads Demanded in Ruling Party Turmoil

Nov 03,2001
The tumult shaking up the ruling Millennium Democratic Party is focusing on replacing Park Jie-won, senior secretary for policy and planning, and retiring Kwon Roh-kap, boss of the Donggyo-dong faction.

"Strong recommendations and demands that President Kim Dae-jung take decisive action on Mr. Kwon and Mr. Park, as they are at the vortex of the internal dispute rocking the party, have been delivered to the president through various channels," said an insider on Friday, insisting on anonymity.

"There is also a mounting call from the reformers' camps that two or three more Blue House secretaries should be removed from office," he added.

Another ruling-party official said the president is seriously considering retiring the two trusted aides who have been the target of party reformers for their heavy-handed patronage in government and party appointments.

But the Blue House showed no outward signs of moving on these issues. Chief of Staff Lee Sang-joo said, "To remove or dismiss someone from office, there needs to be proof of wrongdoing or involvement. But in the case of the two, there are no specific wrongdoings."

In the case of Mr. Kwon, who leads the party's largest faction comprising Kim loyalists since the president's days as a democracy activist in the 1970s, he has no office to be removed from. He resigned from the party's top ruling apparatus, the Supreme Council, last December, when reformers led by Representative Chung Dong-young called for his withdrawal from leadership.

But whatever strategy the president may decide on to ride out the turmoil triggered by the devastating defeat at the Oct. 25 by-elections, pressures kept piling up on Friday. Midway through a hastily congregated Supreme Council meeting, Mr. Chung bolted out, following through on his declaration Thursday that he would resign from the council. Six other elected members had been expected to follow his lead. But in a surprising turn of events, all 12 Supreme Council members offered to resign.

The senior secretary for political affairs, Lew Seon-ho, said that the president is likely to persuade them to retain their posts at the Saturday meeting, when he will outline his plans for party renewal and for picking the party's presidential candidate for next year's election.



by Lee Yang-soo




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