6 LKP chair candidates rebuffed, will boycott vote

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6 LKP chair candidates rebuffed, will boycott vote

Six key candidates for the leadership of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said Monday that they will boycott the party’s election.

Their request to postpone the election, which is scheduled for later this month and will overlap with the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Vietnam, was rebuffed by the LKP’s election management committee.

The election management committee of the LKP held a meeting Monday morning and said it is impossible to postpone the convention.

“Boycotting the national convention is their decision,” said Park Kwan-yong, head of the election management committee.

The LKP, which has been operating under the interim leadership of Kim Byung-joon since July last year, decided last month to hold its national convention on Feb. 27. The plan, however, came into doubt after the United States announced President Donald Trump will hold his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam on the same date.

Fearing that the convention will draw little public attention, six out of eight candidates for the chairmanship, including former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and former LKP chairman and presidential candidate Hong Joon-pyo, said they would boycott the election unless it is postponed. Hong announced Monday he will drop out of the race. The five other candidates who announced the boycott met Sunday and said they will continue to push to postpone the election.

They also said they won’t register their candidacies and also stopped campaign activities. The deadline for candidate registration is today.

Unless they end the boycott, only two candidates will compete in the LKP’s leadership race. Former Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn of the Park Geun-hye administration and Rep. Kim Jin-tae have said they want the convention to take place as scheduled. Hwang has been leading in recent polls.

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