Ahn dangles prospect of new party

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Ahn dangles prospect of new party

Working to recover his somewhat diminished status as a political rock star, Representative Ahn Cheol-soo, an independent lawmaker and a former presidential candidate, said yesterday it was highly likely that he would form a new political party before the June 2014 local government elections. News about Ahn, who turned to politics after a successful career as a digital entrepreneur and became the darling of people disaffected with Korea’s current political climate, has been crowded out in recent months by screaming headlines about rebellion conspiracies, tents at city hall, and a prosecutor’s alleged love child.

“We will put a full-out effort into the June elections,” Ahn said during an interview with the JTBC television network on Monday. “I have many people preparing to run in mayoral elections or provincial governors’ races, and I will probably introduce them to the public.

“If we are prepared by next June, we could create a party,” he said. “If not, we will seek the best way we can find.”

He replied “yes” when asked if he intended to recruit politicians from other parties, such as Sohn Hak-kyu, a high-profile Democratic Party member and former Gyeonggi governor, whose politics tend to the center-left.

Earlier, Ahn had announced that he would recruit candidates for the October by-elections to fill vacant seats in the National Assembly. But he reversed himself on Sunday, saying there were not enough seats being contested to make the effort worthwhile. Because the Supreme Court has delayed its rulings on several cases involving alleged political funding irregularities, the seats of any incumbent Assembly members found guilty and handed sentences severe enough to disqualify them from office would not yet be vacant in October. Only two seats, and possibly a third, will be filled next month.

Asked why Choi Jang-jip, his political mentor and senior policy adviser at the institute he founded, had resigned, Ahn did not go beyond his standard answer: “I didn’t serve him well.”

Commenting on the political summit meeting Monday, which has been generally seen as a failure, Ahn said the outcome was “disappointing,” and that “the situation has only gotten worse after the talks.”

“The people didn’t expect this kind of result,” Ahn said. “They [President Park Geun-hye and the heads of the two major political parties] need to meet once again, or repeatedly, until the problems are resolved.”

Ahn also addressed the resignation of Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook, accused of fathering a child out of wedlock. He said the independence of the prosecution has been attacked by the justice minister, who has started an investigation of the chief prosecutor.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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