In urges Park’s reps to go away

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In urges Park’s reps to go away

Undeterred by robust resistance from Park Geun-hye loyalists, Saenuri interim leader In Myung-jin said Sunday he will continue his efforts to reform the troubled party - mainly by getting rid of pro-Park representatives.

Speaking to reporters at party headquarters, the 70-year-old In, a career pastor, once again urged key Park loyalists to leave the party, saying, “I am not asking them to give up their Assembly badges, but simply take minimal responsibility [for the Choi scandal]. If they refuse to do that, how would people think of them?”

In called on Park loyalists to stop opposing reforms and asked them to put national and party interests above their own.

He noted the abuse of power scandal that led to an impeachment of the president was the result of the Saenuri being controlled by a small group of people who stood for nothing but Park’s interests.

In’s stance Sunday defied earlier expectations that he might forsake his title as head of the emergency council in the face of stiff protest from ardent Park loyalists, namely eight-term lawmaker Suh Chung-won and former finance minister Choi Kyung-hwan.

Determined to punish the key Park loyalists, In said he would hold a discussion among 99 party lawmakers and party officials on Wednesday in an effort to find common ground on a way forward.

In’s attempt to purge Suh, Choi and other Park loyalists suffered a setback Friday when he failed to convene a standing committee to select members of his council so that he could also launch an ethics committee to punish the Park loyalists.

He was foiled because the number of standing committee members who showed up at a meeting at the National Assembly was insufficient.

Of the 51 Saenuri standing committee members, at least 26 needed to attend the committee meeting Friday but only 24 showed up. The absence of members was attributed to Park loyalists.

Suh likened In’s demands to the dictatorial leadership of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and called him a “lying pastor.”

The 72-year-old veteran lawmaker also warned Sunday that he would sue In and Saenuri floor leader Chung Woo-taik for coercing him and other pro-Park members to defect, which he said violated the law on political parties, deepening an internal strife at the party that already saw the defections of 30 lawmakers last month.

Despite Park loyalists’ resistance, the In leadership is expected to push through reforms with majority support from party members. Of 99 Saenuri lawmakers, 68 consented to giving In full authority to steer party affairs.

The Saenuri’s approval dropped to 12 percent from 15 a week earlier in the latest poll by Gallup Korea. The rival Minjoo Party of Korea enjoyed a 40-percent approval rating. The poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday of 1,004 adults nationwide.

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

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