GNP to merge with Park Geun-hye loyalist group

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GNP to merge with Park Geun-hye loyalist group

The ruling Grand National Party said yesterday that it will merge with a splinter conservative group today, signaling progress towards a conservative alliance ahead of the April 11 legislative elections.

Representative Kwon Young-se, secretary-general of the GNP, said yesterday that all working-level problems have been resolved for the ruling party’s merger with the Future Hope Alliance, a splinter group largely composed of Park Geun-hye loyalists.

“We will have a merger announcement meeting tomorrow and register it with the National Election Commission,” Kwon said.

Representative Roh Chul-rae, floor leader of the Future Hope Alliance, also held a press conference yesterday and announced the merger. “We unconditionally agreed with the completion of the merger to contribute to the political reform efforts of Park before the April 11 general elections,” Roh said.

The two conservative parties had earlier approved the merger through their national conventions in 2010, but the final hurdle was the 1.3 billion won ($1.1 million) of debt of the Future Hope Alliance. Other issues such as the nomination for the April legislative elections and the reinstatement of the Future Hope Alliance’s former chairman Suh Chung-won were also thorny items that hindered the merger.

“The GNP agreed to absorb a large number of the FHA’s staffers,” Kwon said. “We also made a significant concession over the debt issue. We agreed that politicians from both parties will have fair competition on equal footing to earn the nomination.”

While the GNP has agreed to take over the debt of the FHA, the demand of Suh’s reinstatement was withdrawn, sources familiar with the deal said yesterday.

“During the final negotiation, we had no discussion on Suh,” Kwon said. “It is my understanding that Suh would not run in the legislative elections.”

Created in 2007 from former science minister Chung Kun-mo’s presidential bid, the Future Hope Alliance remained abandoned after the election but was revived by Park loyalists on the eve of the 2008 legislative elections. A group of Park loyalists left the GNP after they lost the power struggle against the Lee Myung-bak faction and failed to win nominations.

By Ser Myo-ja []
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