MDP factions in a tussle over new leadership plan

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MDP factions in a tussle over new leadership plan

Factional jostling within the ruling Millennium Democratic Party kicked into high gear Friday as groups vied to make their marks on the structure of the revamped party leadership.

At a party officeholders' meeting presided over by Han Kwang-ok, the party's chairman, the party's special reform committee bickered with a faction led by Representative Chang Young-dal over the powers of the party chair. Representative Park Sang-cheon also jumped into the fray to make it a three-way fight.

The special reform committee, launched in December and charged with forming the new party leadership, proposed making the party chairman a figurehead. The real powers would be given to the floor leader and the chief policymaker, who would be elected by party members. The floor leader and the chief policymaker would also serve a two-year term.

Mr. Han and a group of other party heavyweights led by Chung Kyun-hwan support the special reform committee's proposal.

But Mr. Chang's group proposed that a 48-member executive committee be set up to name the party leadership. The 48 members would be elected at the party's municipal and provincial levels.

Mr. Park offered another option that would put the party on a "group leadership" system and give the party chairman substantive powers.

"We should give the chairman the power to make personnel appointments and propose policies," Mr. Park argued. "If we go with the reform committee's plan, the party may fall into a tailspin."

Members of the special committee defended their proposal, saying it would ensure fairness in selection of party leaders as well as how the party nominates its presidential candidate for the December 2002 election.

The disagreement has party officials worried; they face a year-end deadline for assembling a blueprint for restructuring the party's leadership. They want to fill the void created when President Kim Dae-jung resigned from the top post in the party Nov. 8. Mr. Kim stepped down amid vocal calls for reform from within the party.

by Lee Yang-soo

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