NPAD lawmakers prepare to run for its top post

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NPAD lawmakers prepare to run for its top post

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Moon Jae-in Chung Sye-kyun Park Jie-won

The opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) took a step toward its highly anticipated general convention in February, with three of its prominent lawmakers resigning from their leadership positions to vie for the party chairmanship.

Lawmakers Moon Jae-in, Chung Sye-kyun and Park Jie-won stepped down from their positions as emergency council members on Wednesday in accordance with the party’s internal regulation that prohibits them from continuing in their posts while running for election.

The rule is intended to prevent possible conflicts of interest when it comes to setting up election guidelines at the general convention, which is scheduled for Feb. 8.

“I am resigning today because of my wish to serve [the party] in a greater capacity, drawing on my experience in my 20-year political career,” Chung said Wednesday during an emergency council meeting at the National Assembly.

Reps. Moon and Park followed with similar remarks.

Their resignations come amid increasing tension within the main opposition, caused by deep schisms among different factions and the weight its top position carries.

Once elected, the new party leader will steer the NPAD through the 2016 general election and wield overarching influence on party nominations - a possibility that has caused more pressure to build within the party.

Rep. Moon, the former chief of staff under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, is the de facto leader of the pro-Roh faction within the NPAD and has often been criticized by his fellow lawmakers outside that bloc.

Rep. Park Jie-won, who also served as chief of staff under the Kim Dae-jung government, represents a group of seasoned politicians with ties to the Kim government, which held power from 1998 to 2003.

Chung Sye-kyun, while considered close to the pro-Roh group, is seen by many as representing moderate, center-to-left lawmakers in the NPAD, which includes 130 representatives.

Over the past year, the divides within the main opposition sometimes drew considerable public attention.

The most notable case was in September, when interim Chairwoman Park Young-sun was publicly condemned for the way in which she negotiated the terms of an agreement with the ruling Saenuri Party over a special Sewol law, which would set the course for an investigation into the ferry disaster.

Disgruntled with the agreement, more than 30 opposition lawmakers demanded she step down.

Shocked by such open protests from within her own party, Rep. Park turned off her mobile phone and stayed out of public view for four days before resuming her job. She later surrendered her interim leadership, though continued to stay on as the NPAD floor leader.

Moon Hee-sang was then elevated to lead the main opposition’s emergency committee.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]




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