DUP to choose candidate for president on Sept. 25

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DUP to choose candidate for president on Sept. 25

The Democratic United Party will choose a presidential candidate on Sept. 25 after kicking off a primary in August, Chairman Lee Hae-chan of the largest liberal opposition party, said yesterday.

Lee spoke at a debate hosted by the Korea Broadcasting Journalists Club, and talked about a wide range of political issues including the prospect of inviting liberal independent Ahn Cheol-soo to the party’s primary, and whether the party will keep its alliance with scandal-tarnished Unified Progressive Party.

Lee said the party will begin its nationwide presidential primary Aug. 10 and make a final selection on Sept. 25.

The party’s candidates will begin touring the country for the primary after the London Olympic Games end. The final selection of the candidate will be made just before the Chuseok holiday begins Sept. 30.

The conservative ruling Saenuri Party has decided to begin its nomination process next month and select its candidate Aug. 20

Regarding some senior politicians’ demands to revise the party’s constitution to allow more candidates to participate in the primary, Lee said the possibility is slim. Under the current party constitution and regulations, members of the party’s Supreme Council, including a chairman whose term did not end one year before the presidential election, cannot run in the primary.

At the debate, Lee also said it will be arrogant for the DUP to say it can score the victory alone.

“Determination is not enough,” he said. “We have to ride the current of public sentiment. To this end, we have to cherish everyone and anyone, whether it’s Ahn or others, to form alliances and invite them.”

Although software mogul-turned-scholar Ahn has yet to declare a candidacy either with a party or as an independent, the DUP has expressed hopes that he join its primary. In an earlier interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Lee said Ahn had until July 20 to decide whether to join the largest opposition party or not.

“It is clear that Ahn opposes another presidential victory by the Saenuri Party,” Lee said. “I have made a proposal to open an official channel to talk [to Ahn],” he said. “To decide on how to proceed with the primary, we have to talk first and agree that he will participate. But we aren’t there yet.”

While criticizing the Saenuri Party for “repeating the fraying repertories” of pro-North accusation against the liberals before every election, Lee also showed concerns about keeping the alliance with the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party.

“There were many problems inside the UPP over the election law violations,” Lee said. “They were acts beyond common sense. That is not appropriate.”

Regarding the controversy over UPP Representative Lee Seok-gi’s recent comments denying the national anthem, the DUP chairman said, “A person with such a way of thinking and values is not a partner of our alliance.”

He, however, criticized the Saenuri Party for demanding the UPP lawmaker be expelled from the National Assembly. “Expulsions based on an ideology, not an act, is the way of thinking of an autocracy,” Lee said.

By Ser Myo-ja[myoja@joongang.co.kr ]

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