Saenuri leader promises ‘purge’

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Saenuri leader promises ‘purge’

The newly-appointed leader of the ruling party issued an ultimatum to die-hard loyalists of President Park Geun-hye, ordering them to leave the party by next week.

“The people who occupied key posts for the past four years of the Park administration and the Saenuri Party failed to fulfill their roles and must accept their responsibility,” In Myung-jin, interim head of the Saenuri Party, said Friday. “The party’s former chairmen and those who served in major posts of the government failed to assist the president properly, so they must take their responsibility.”

In said that figures who clung to control of the party and caused it to split must also be removed.

“Those who borrowed the president’s powers and discomforted other people with unreasonable and reckless acts are also subjects of the purge,” In said.

While In did not single out any individuals, the targets of the purge were clearly the key members of the pro-Park faction: former Chairman Lee Jung-hyun and Rep. Choi Kyung-Hwan, who served as deputy prime minister for the economy, and Rep. Suh Chung-won, the so-called big brother of the Park loyalists.

In was nominated last week to salvage the sinking ruling party from an unprecedented abuse of power scandal that led to the president’s impeachment Dec. 9.

The party, which won 129 seats in an April general election, was reduced to 99 members after a mass defection of lawmakers disgruntled with the Park faction. In, a 70-year-old pastor, has said a purge of the politicians responsible for the split is his top priority.

“Because the party has yet to form the ethics committee, we cannot hold them legally responsible,” In said. “But cleaning house is an urgent task, so they must take two responsibilities first.” He said they must take moral and political responsibilities.

Urging them to issue a public apology and stand down from politics, In said, they must leave the Saenuri Party. “They must make the decision by Jan. 6,” he said.

“On Jan. 8, I will announce my conclusion, including a decision on my own post,” he said, a hint that if key Park loyalists don’t leave, he may step down from the interim head post.

Asked if President Park must leave the party, In said he will give an answer on Jan. 8. “As the interim head, I have never said anything about any particular person. President Park is also covered by this principle.”

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

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