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(2nd LD) Ruling party's infighting shows signs of abating

All Headlines 19:40 March 11, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with ruling party's fued; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- Infighting in the ruling Saenuri Party showed signs of abating on Friday as its rival lawmakers agreed to make efforts to work out differences over who will be picked to run in next month's parliamentary race.

The ruling Saenuri Party has been split between those who are loyal to President Park Geun-hye and their opponents over how to select candidates for the April 13 parliamentary elections.

Earlier this week, Yoon Sang-hyun, a key member of the pro- Park faction and a former special political adviser to Park, was found to have used abusive language against party chief Kim Moo-sung, saying that Kim should not get a party ticket.

Kim has been at odds with the pro-Park faction over how to select candidates for the elections and other matters.

The party chief had vowed to reflect the voice of ordinary voters when selecting the party's candidates for the elections, an idea rejected by the pro-Park side.

On Thursday, two members of the committee in charge of nominating candidates boycotted a meeting in protest of what they claim is the "arrogant manner" in which Rep. Lee Hahn-koo ran the nomination committee.

The two lawmakers are confidants of Kim, while Lee, who said he will not run for re-election, is the committee's chairman.

Lee, who is supported by the pro-Park faction, brushed off the boycott on Friday as he pressed ahead with the announcement of the partial results of the committee's deliberation of candidates.

The move set the stage for deepening infighting within the ruling party.

But in a dramatic breakthrough, the rival members of the nomination committee vowed to resolve outstanding issues and speed up nominations.

Meanwhile, an internal feud is intensifying in the minor opposition People's Party as one of its senior members quit from his post in a dispute over a possible merger with the main opposition party ahead of the elections.

Rep. Kim Han-gil, the head of the party's election planning committee, resigned from his post after he failed to persuade the party's co-chairman Ahn Cheol-soo to join forces with the Minjoo Party to win more seats in the upcoming polls.

It's not unusual for political parties to put aside their differences and merge to boost their chances of winning at the polls.

Ahn has rejected an offer from the main opposition Minjoo Party to merge their parties.

Currently, the Saenuri Party controls 157 seats in the 293-member National Assembly, compared with 107 seats held by the main opposition Minjoo Party. Ahn's People's Party controls only 17 seats, three seats shy of forming a parliamentary negotiation bloc.

The Minjoo Party says a merger must be forged to prevent Saenuri from winning more seats and to keep it from achieving a sweeping victory in the elections.

Still, Ahn has ruled out a merger with the main opposition party.

In December, Ahn quit the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), the main opposition party he co-founded with another lawmaker in 2014, due to internal strife.

The NPAD has since changed its name to the Minjoo Party in an apparent move to improve its image.

In South Korea, changing a party's name is a common vote-buying tactic, although its members rarely change.

khj@yna.co.kr
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