PPP to switch to interim emergency leadership
The People Power Party (PPP) agreed Tuesday to find new interim leadership and stop a drift in the president's party.
The PPP's Supreme Council passed a motion Tuesday morning to convene a national committee as early as Friday to discuss a transition to an emergency response leadership after floor leader Kweon Seong-dong stepped down as acting chief.
The motion was passed by four of seven Supreme Council members: floor leader Kweon and Reps. Sung Il-jong, Bae Hyun-jin and Yoon Young-seok.
On Sunday, Kweon stepped down as acting chief to take responsibility for the party's leadership crisis. In a general meeting the next day, the PPP decided to shift to an emergency response committee system, receiving all but one vote from the 89 lawmakers in attendance.
An emergency committee would replace the one-man leadership of Kweon — and before him, suspended Chairman Lee Jun-seok — with an interim collective leadership amid plummeting public approval ratings for both the party and the president.
Kweon, a close ally of President Yoon Suk-yeol, became acting chief after PPP Chairman Lee's party membership was suspended for six months over sexual bribery allegations.
Kweon came under fire last week after his private texts with Yoon taking a jab at Lee were photographed over his shoulder in public.
As a result, three PPP lawmakers resigned from the party's Supreme Council over the weekend, and Kweon stepped down as acting chief.
Despite tendering their resignations last week, Reps. Bae Hyun-jin and Yoon Young-seok took part in Tuesday's Supreme Council meeting.
A PPP spokesperson said that Bae and Yoon were still eligible to vote because their resignation letters had not been processed.
"We will hold a national committee," Park Hyung-soo, a PPP floor spokesperson, told reporters, "and receive an authoritative interpretation of the party constitution as to whether the current situation should be viewed as an 'emergency situation."
Party members have squabbled over whether the current situation meets the requirements to launch an emergency response committee under the party constitution, which requires a vacancy in the position of party chief or the dissolving of the Supreme Council.
The disciplinary action taken against Lee by the PPP's ethics committee last month has been described by the party as an "accident" rather than a "vacancy," leading some party members to question whether emergency conditions exist.
Supporters of Lee are resistant to the idea of an emergency leadership because it could eventually lead to an early national convention to elect a new chairman. This would stop Lee from making a return after his six-month suspension. Lee's two-year term as chairman runs through next June.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Lee criticized Bae for resigning from the Supreme Council last Friday and then voting in the meeting.
There continues to be controversy over procedures, including who has the authority to appoint the chair of the emergency steering committee.
Kwon told reporters Tuesday, "We will discuss and recommend the appointment of the emergency response committee chairperson."
When asked if there were any candidates, he replied, "We're just beginning, so we are listening carefully to the opinions of many people."
Kweon had lunch with senior lawmakers including fifth-term Rep. Suh Byung-soo, chairman of the party's national committee, who has previously been critical of the idea of an emergency leadership.
A presidential official said in a briefing Tuesday, "The party is going through a number of complex and difficult problems, and we only hope that it will be stabilized as soon as possible."
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]