Meeting illustrates NPAD’s splits

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Meeting illustrates NPAD’s splits

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) again displayed signs of deep-rooted internal rifts on Friday when Rep. Joo Seung-yong expressed in the middle of a supreme council meeting his intention to resign from his leadership position.

Urging other supreme council members to follow suit to take responsibility for the party’s crushing defeats in the April 29 by-elections, the three-term lawmaker said he was “humiliated” by a remark directed at him by one of his fellow opposition lawmakers before abruptly leaving the NPAD’s supreme council room at the National Assembly.

Party Chairman Moon Jae-in’s attempts to stop him were to no avail.

During the meeting, Joo was criticized by fellow supreme council member Jung Cheong-rae, who said the NPAD’s bigger problem centered on a person who “blackmails the party” by putting his position at stake - meant as a direct jab at Joo.

“It will be better that he cooperates to unite the party,” said Jung, a second-term lawmaker who is known for his hawkish stance on policy. Apparently upset by Jung’s comment, Joo admitted he was deeply humiliated.

“I have not lived my life in a dishonorable way to have to hear such humiliating public criticism. Until now, I have endured caustic remarks [from Jung] on his social networking sites against what I have said,” said Joo in frustration before declaring that he would resign and leaving the room.

Conflict erupted after Jung called on Joo via his Facebook account on Monday to refrain from blaming the party’s defeat on the faction loyal to the late President Roh Moo-hyun. “Joo said the party’s defeat in the by-elections was the people’s judgement on the party’s unilateral management by the pro-Roh faction. But that claim is an inaccurate assessment.”

Joo has long been a harsh critic of Moon and the way the party has been run - under what he considers the influence of the main opposition’s group of Roh loyalists.

In the aftermath of its defeats in the by-elections last month, in which the NPAD lost in all four races, Joo called on the chairman to more closely listen those outside the pro-Roh faction and eliminate those members from his circle in light of the party’s faltering approval ratings.

Joo repeatedly signaled that he would step down from his leadership post unless Moon, considered the de facto leader of the party’s Roh loyalists, heeded his demands.

Unfolding internal conflicts have deepened worries for the NPAD following the letdown at the polls and called Moon’s chances for the presidency into question.

Moon has been under pressure from inside and outside the party to take more dramatic action in resolving long-standing internal divisions. Some opposition lawmakers have gone so far as to demand Moon resign as chairman.

Moon was chosen to lead the NPAD in the party primary three months ago.

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

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