Officials abandon NPAD to announce new party

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Officials abandon NPAD to announce new party

Dozens of former and incumbent officials from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) abandoned their political affiliations on Thursday to create a new party, signaling an imminent and massive restructuring of the liberal bloc.

The alliance, known as the Age of People’s Hope, announced its decision to leave the country’s main opposition party on Thursday during a press conference led by the NPAD’s former Deputy Secretary-General Jeong Jin-wu, the head of the group, and 14 others.

According to Jeong, approximately 100 NPAD members are planning to leave the main opposition en masse, disgruntled with its current leadership. Most of those exiting are from Gwangju and the Jeolla region and have vowed to create a new party that will promote moderate, reformist politics.

The Age of People’s Hope was created in September and has about 1,000 members nationwide, including NPAD members, he added.

While no NPAD lawmakers stood among them Thursday, speculation has grown that more main opposition members will join the exodus.

In the press conference, Jeong said the group has collected opinions since October, holding lectures nationwide.

“We confirmed that the public was no longer interested in the NPAD, and they said that we must not waste any more time and start a new political party as soon as possible,” he said.

Jeong went on to lament that the NPAD’s current leadership and its reform committee, established in the aftermath of its defeat in the April by-elections to salvage the party, did nothing but fuel a factionalist split.

The NPAD remains divided, with internal factionalism contributing to party rifts, and the group loyal to late President Roh Moo-hyun being criticized for abusing its influence.

Current NPAD Chairman Moon Jae-in is considered a member of the pro-Roh faction.

In his address, Jeong specifically criticized the main opposition leader, saying that he used the reform committee for his “dictatorship.”

“The NPAD has no possibility of winning in the general and presidential elections,” he said. “We concluded that the NPAD has no hope.”

Making clear that their roots were in Gwangju and the Jeolla region, he added that his allies were “nameless fighters” and that their initiative was modeled after that of the late President Kim Dae-jung.

A source from the new group also left open the possibility that an alliance would be formed with Rep. Chun Jung-bae, a former NPAD veteran who left the party on the eve of the April by-elections to run as an independent in Gwangju.

Chun won the race, after which it was widely conjectured that he would create a new party.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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