Rift could divide main opposition

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Rift could divide main opposition

A group of the main opposition party lawmakers, disgruntled with their senior leaders amid internal factional battles, is considering a plan to create a new political party, sources told the JoongAng Ilbo.

According to multiple participants who attended the meeting, eight veteran lawmakers from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) gathered Tuesday to discuss their future with the party.

Rep. Kim Dong-cheol, a three-term lawmaker representing Gwangsan A of Gwangju, brought up the possibility of creating a new party if the NPAD failed to mend internal ruptures, they said.

The NPAD, with 130 lawmakers under its command, is currently engulfed in a factional war, split between those who have an allegiance to the late President Roh Moo-hyun and those who do not.

Roh, whose presidential term lasted from 2003 to 2008, is a liberal icon and his loyalists are often referred to as being part of the pro-Roh faction. Moon Jae-in, the NPAD’s current chairman, is also a Roh loyalist.

After Moon appointed Rep. Choi Jae-sung, another Roh loyalist, as the party’s secretary-general, a powerful position that can influence the nomination process for next year’s legislative election, skepticism rose inside the NPAD last week about Moon’s willingness to overhaul the party and mend the internal split.

Moon went ahead with Choi’s appointment despite criticism from Rep. Lee Jong-kul, the NPAD floor leader. Lee arranged the meeting on Tuesday, inviting seven other senior lawmakers outside of the Roh faction to discuss their next move.

Reps. Kang Chang-il, Park Jie-won, Kim Young-hwan, Shin Hak-yong, Joo Seong-yong and Choi Won-sik participated in addition to Reps. Kim and Lee.

One lawmaker in attendance agreed with the idea of abandoning the NPAD and creating a new party.

“I thought it was understandable and agree with that opinion,” he said.

In a telephone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo Wednesday, Kim admitted to making the remark, but added that it was his personal opinion.

“I’m talking with many other people and collecting opinions; the time will soon come for us to make our stance public,” he said.

The NPAD faces an increasing threat from other liberal rivals as well. Rep. Chun Jung-bae, a former NPAD member who had left the party and successfully won a seat as an independent in the April by-elections, previously said that he was thinking about creating a new political party.

BY LEE JI-SANG, SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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