Ahn rejects political alliance

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Ahn rejects political alliance

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, a member of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), rejected Sunday a proposal by the party’s chairman for a three-man political alliance and instead demanded a party convention be held to elect a new leader.

Ahn’s refusal to join hands with NPAD Chairman Moon Jae-in and Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon in leading the party to the general election has left the direction of the main opposition hanging in the balance, once again illustrating the deep mistrust among its key members.

“I contemplated Moon’s offer for a temporary [tripartite] leadership system over and over again. ... But [I have come to the conclusion that] the troika system would fall short of offering the party a new path,” Ahn explained Sunday in a press briefing.

In its place, he demanded a new party convention for January in order to elect a new leader ahead of the general election in April.

“I suggest we hold a party convention for reform, in which all party members, including Chairman Moon, could participate in the first stages of change,” said Ahn, who added that a new lineup was the only hope for unity.

He went on to state that the NPAD needed to undergo a profound change - one that was more substantial than a three-part alliance.

He also stressed that potential candidates would need to provide their own vision for the NPAD as well as a plan to win the presidential election. Steps toward party reform, Ahn said, would have to start “from the scratch.”

Likewise, he made it clear that if a new leader was elected, previous reform platforms drafted with the support of the current leadership and adopted earlier this year as the party’s official rules would be replaced with new measures.

Critics of Moon’s stewardship within the party supported Ahn’s proposal.

Rep. Joo Seung-yong, a member of the NPAD’s supreme council, welcomed Ahn’s demand, calling it “a realistic answer” for solving the myriad of problems facing the party.

If Moon were to accept Ahn’s proposal, he would be let go from his position as NPAD chairman in order for a new party convention to be staged. The package of reforms drawn up by the party’s reform committee under his oversight would also be scrapped.

On Sunday, Moon said that it was “regrettable” that Ahn had rejected his proposal for a three-man alliance and said he would respond to his suggestion for a party convention after consulting party members.

Ahn previously said he would consider the chairman’s offer and announce his final decision by Sunday.

Moon, who was elected in February to lead the highly divided main opposition, proposed the collaboration on Nov. 18 in an apparent attempt to keep the party from falling apart amid the struggle for dominance among various party factions.

Ahn’s demands are the newest test for Moon and come at the expense of his authority.

Since his election as NPAD chairman, his leadership has consistently been challenged, a situation made worse by the party’s plunging popularity following defeats in this year’s by-elections.

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

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