DUP leadership pressed to make way for Moon

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DUP leadership pressed to make way for Moon

With a few days left before the end of the largest opposition party’s presidential primary, demands grew from inside the Democratic United Party that the current leadership must stand down to empower the candidate’s presidential campaign.

Moon Jae-in, former chief of staff of late President Roh Moo-hyun, is leading the primary by garnering an average 50.8 percent of the votes, scoring victories in all 11 rounds.

The primary will wrap up on Sunday if any one of the four contenders wins the majority, and the Democrats have already begun thinking about the strategy to unite the party in preparation for the long-anticipated negotiation to consolidate their candidacy against liberal darling Ahn Cheol-soo.

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The primary was a competition between Moon and three other candidates, and the DUP’s imminent challenge is mending the internal rupture created during the process.

Declaring her support for Moon, Representative Park Young-sun, a three-term lawmaker, said in a radio interview yesterday that the Roh loyalists must give up their power if Moon is selected as the candidate to unite the party.

“I think it is necessary for Moon’s advisers to give up their leadership posts and fight as rank-and-file members in the campaign,” said Park in an interview with MBC radio. “We need to apply the principle that a new container is needed to store new liquor for a sterner leadership.”

Park also gently pressured the current leaders to retire naturally. “The leadership was legitimately elected through the party convention, so it is wrong to force them to step down,” she said. “But I expect the leadership to set an example in order to realign the party with the presidential candidate at the center.”

Another senior member of the party said the only way for the DUP to survive is to elect Moon as the presidential candidate and remove Chairman Lee Hae-chan and floor leader Park Jie-won from their posts.

“We cannot have the election with Lee and Park on the frontline,” he said. “Only after they stand down, Moon’s opponents can cooperate with his campaign.”

After the primary wraps up, the leadership is expected to face stronger pressures to step down. Discussions already took place inside the party that the presidential candidate will be given the sole power to form the campaign committee and oversee personnel and financial affairs.

The Supreme Council, the highest decision-making body of the party, will minimize its activities while giving more power to the candidate under the plan. The reform measure is scheduled to be approved on Monday, if the party will elect its candidate Sunday without a run-off.

The prosecution’s investigation into the money-for-nomination scandal involving the DUP is also another factor that will decide the fates of Lee and Park.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office will indict four people linked to the scandal today. Yang Gyeong-suk, a Roh loyalist, will be prosecuted on charges of receiving more than 3.2 billion won ($2.8 million) from three aspiring lawmakers before the April 11 legislative elections by promising that she would use her connections to the DUP to win them nominations. The three men who paid Yang will also be indicted.

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

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