Blue House forbids any ‘pro-Park’ boasting

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Blue House forbids any ‘pro-Park’ boasting

With an election for the Saenuri Party floor leader coming up on Tuesday, the Blue House warned candidates against using the terms “President Park Geun-hye loyalist” or “pro-Park” to improve their chances, prompting some Saenuri lawmakers to rail against factions and cliques within the party.

When Rep. Yoo Ki-june announced on Thursday his decision to run for floor leader, he came under heavy criticism from lawmakers within the party who said he shouldn’t be running because he is a Park loyalist.

The Blue House stepped up its warning against such categorizations.

“President Park said in her address to senior reporters Tuesday that ‘I did not create a pro-Park faction,’” a Blue House official said. “This means candidates should not involve the Blue House in a party election.

“There should be no such instance in which candidates manipulate labels like ‘pro-Park’ to become the floor leader or chairman of the party,” the official added.

“The presidential aide probably made such a public announcement to distance the Blue House from recent affairs in the Saenuri Party,” a key member of the ruling conservative party said. “I also heard that the senior Blue House official personally communicated with the Saenuri Party to warn it against tarnishing the president’s name as the head of a clique.”

Another presidential aide added that “President Park will not just sit and watch those politicians who wield their Park loyalist or non-loyalist titles.”

Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan, perceived as a key member of the pro-Park faction, said, “Park loyalists should altogether abandon attempts to become the floor leader. That would show the party is humbly accepting the people’s verdict in the April 13 general election.”

Rep. Hong Moon-jong, also a pro-Park lawmaker, had contemplated running for floor leader but backed out. He is still running for the party chairman position, though.

As some media reports and political circles described this as an agreement within the pro-Park faction on a single pro-Park candidate for the Saenuri Party floor leader position, Choi lashed out.

“Rep. Yoo Ki-june is not the sole pro-Park candidate,” Choi said.

Choi also reportedly told Hong and Yoo “not to run for the floor leader position,” saying he would refrain from running for positions like chairmanship or membership in the Supreme Council at the national party convention.

Other Saenuri lawmakers echoed this sentiment. Rep. Suh Chung-won, a known pro-Park lawmaker, is allegedly telling other lawmakers and officials to “not sell the president [to win elections].”

Meanwhile, Rep. Yoo denied ever putting himself forward as the sole pro-Park candidate for floor leader.

“I have never said myself that I am the sole pro-Park candidate,” Yoo said. “Words like Park loyalist or non-loyalist should be registered in the archaic word dictionary. I announce that from now on, I am seceding from all factions.

“But this does not mean that I am disapproving the pro-Park faction,” he added.

BY SHIN YONG-HO, KIM KYUNG-HEE [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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