Suh requests investigation, suspension of Saenuri head

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Suh requests investigation, suspension of Saenuri head

Rep. Suh Chung-won, the kingpin of President Park Geun-hye’s faction in the ruling party, took legal action Monday against the Saenuri Party’s interim leader, In Myung-jin, requesting the prosecution to open a criminal investigation into him for coercion and defamation and asking a local court to suspend him.

In a press release, Suh said he asked the Seoul Southern District Prosecutor’s Office to start a criminal investigation into In’s alleged violations of the Political Parties Act. Suh also said his petition accused In of defamation and obstruction of business.

“I also filed an injunction to the Seoul Southern District Court to stop him from working as the interim leader,” Suh said.

In, a career pastor, was named last month as head of the Saenuri’s emergency council to contain damage to the party caused by a scandal that led to the president’s impeachment. The 70-year-old pastor’s first reform initiative was a purge of diehard Park loyalists from the party. While Saenuri former Chairman Lee Jung-hyun submitted to In’s demand and left, others, particularly eight-term lawmaker Suh Chung-won and former finance minister Choi Kyung-hwan, did not.

Suh said In violated the law governing political parties by forcing some Saenuri lawmakers, including himself, to leave the party. Suh also said his decision to file the injunction to suspend In from further working as the interim chief was to block his attempt to summon a standing committee to complete the emergency leadership to oversee the party.

Suh said In was running the Saenuri Party like a kangaroo court by using the media. He also called In a “leftist” for having protested the Park administration’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system and demanding the resumption of the Kaesong Industrial Complex’s operation.

In also faced further resistance by Park loyalists in the afternoon for his plan to convene a standing committee meeting. He initially planned to hold the conference on Friday to select members of his leadership and then launch an ethics committee to purge the Park faction, but not enough members showed up.

In made another attempt by scheduling a meeting for 2 p.m., but the quorum was not met as of 5:45 p.m. Of the 51 members, only 24 came, two short of meeting the necessary 26.

Secretary-general Rep. Bak Maeng-woo, an ally of In, said the Park loyalists were systemically discouraging members from attending. “They were threatening the members, and sometimes they physically blocked the members,” he said.

Meanwhile, a group of 31 first-term Saenuri lawmakers held a meeting Monday to address the deepening confrontation between In and Suh and issued a statement to support In’s reform initiative. Of the 99 Saenuri lawmakers, 44 are first-term representatives.

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

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