Saenuri plans convention after June 4

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Saenuri plans convention after June 4

The ruling Saenuri Party has tentatively decided to hold a convention after the June 4 local elections to elect a new leader to succeed Chairman Hwang Woo-yea.

The convention date is expected to be moved up from the previously considered time in late August to late June or early July, though plans will be finalized after further discussions, according to talks at the supreme council meeting yesterday.

“If the party convention is hosted in May before the June 4 local elections, a few problems will surface,” said Hong Moon-jong, secretary general of the Saenuri Party.

“The party’s power and the nation’s attention will be dispersed, and any signs of conflict inside the party over the course of picking the party leadership could deal a blow to local election candidates.”

The decision to hold the convention later than June comes after the ruling party failed to reach a consensus last Thursday as different factions inside the Saenuri had divided opinions on the general convention date - when not only the next party leader but also supreme council members will be selected. Chairman Hwang’s term ends May 14.

In the meeting on Thursday, the pro-Park Geun-hye faction argued that the general convention should take place after the June local elections and even after the July 30 by-elections. Others, including supporters of former President Lee Myung-bak, said the convention should be before June 4 to minimize the management vacuum.

The latter group, which represents a minority inside the party, also criticized the leadership for delaying the general convention date for the sake of prolonging their own political life. If the new leaders - highly likely to come from the powerful pro-Park faction - are picked before the June elections, they would have to take responsibility for any unfavorable results.

Current leaders want to maintain their power until the 2016 general election

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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