Partisan Bickering Escalates as Parties Aim for Head Start in General Elections

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Partisan Bickering Escalates as Parties Aim for Head Start in General Elections

With the selection of candidates for national constituency seats behind them, the nation's political parties clashed bitterly Wednesday in the metropolitan area where the competition is expected to become most heated in the upcoming April general elections.

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) stressed "reforms within stability" and denounced the opposition parties' candidate selections for proportional representation seats, claiming they were influenced by money-politics. MDP's chief campaigner Rhee In-je made a tour of rallies in Ansong, Pyongtaek and Suwon in Kyonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul, and said, "If the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) wins in the elections by fueling regionalism, confusion will reign in Korean society."

GNP President Lee Hoi-chang toured southern Seoul districts and said, "The gap between the rich and the poor widened during the last two years of Kim Dae-jung's rule."

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-pil, honorary president of No.2 opposition party the United Liberal Democrats (ULD), attacked President Kim at a Seoul-Kyonggi rally by saying, "President Kim is trying to hang onto power just by renaming his party."

Cho Soon, president of another minor opposition the Democratic People's Party (DPP), and the party's chief campaigner Chang Ki-pyo toured Changan-dong and Tongdaemun market districts in eastern Seoul and announced, "Voters must judge the Kim Dae-jung administration, which has deceived the people and sold off the nation to foreigners by allowing national wealth to leave the country, and the Grand National Party, which has given up being in opposition."

The ruling MDP condemned the opposition and stated, "The selections of candidates for national constituency seats by the GNP and other opposition parties appear to have been influenced by money, and they failed to keep their promises to allocate at least 30 percent of the seats to women." GNP's spokesman Lee Won-chang retorted, "It is shameless of President Kim and the ruling MDP to find fault with the opposition's candidate selections when President Kim himself was dictated by money and contributions when he was opposition leader."

by Lee Soo-ho

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