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(LEAD) Former PM to run for parliamentary seat as independent

All Headlines 20:24 March 15, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more info on the People's Party in 13-17 paras)

SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) -- A former prime minister vowed Tuesday to quit the main opposition party and run in next month's parliamentary race as an independent, a move that could further deepen the factional infighting within the opposition bloc.

Lee Hae-chan said he could not accept the Minjoo Party's decision to exclude him from consideration for the nomination for the April 13 parliamentary elections.

"There is no reasonable cause" for the exclusion, Lee said in a statement. He also said he will not yield to what he claims is injustice.

Lee's defiant move came a day after Kim Chong-in, interim leader of the opposition party, excluded Lee from nomination, citing an unspecified political decision.

Lee served as South Korea's premier from 2004 to 2006 when liberal President Roh Moo-hyun was in office.

Lee's move laid bare factional infighting between those who were loyal to the late president and those led by the new party chief.

Still, the pro-Roh faction remains cautious on any collective action against the current party leadership.

Moon Jae-in -- Roh's former chief of staff -- declined to comment on the party's decision not to give its blessing to Lee.

The lawmaker -- who quit the opposition party's top post in January -- has said he would not run for a second term.

The opposition party has also excluded Moon Hee-sang and Yoo Ihn-tae, who both served as aides to Roh, from consideration for party tickets.

In yet another blow to the embattled party, Chyung Ho-joon said he would quit the party in protest of being excluded from nomination.

Chyung is a son of Chyung Da-chul, a former advisor to the main opposition Minjoo Party. The senior Chyung has said he would join the minor opposition People's Party and was persuading his son to follow suit.

The People's Party that broke away from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), now the Minjoo Party, had to cope with its own problems over the past few weeks, although it has been able to mend some of its fractures.

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

The party's co-chairman Chun Jung-bae, who had refused to participate in party meetings over a possible merger with the Minjoo Party, said Tuesday that he will return to his post.

Chun has been at odds with fellow co-chairman Ahn Cheol-soo over Ahn's declining of an offer from Kim Chong-in to merge with the Minjoo party to win more seats in the upcoming polls

On the other hand, Rep. Kim Han-gil, who also stepped down from the head of the party's election planning committee, said the party's leadership should take responsibility for the possible defeat in the election.

Kim, who formerly headed the NPAD with Ahn before both departed the party, resigned from his post after he failed to persuade Ahn over the possible merger.

The ruling Saenuri Party, meanwhile, is also reeling from disputes stemming from nominations.

Joo Ho-young, a three-term lawmaker of the ruling party, hinted that he could run for a fourth term as an independent after he failed to win the party's nomination.

The ruling party has said it would field a female candidate in Joo's electoral district, a move that would deprive him of a chance to run for a parliamentary seat with the party's blessing.

The ruling party has been split between those who are loyal to President Park Geun-hye and their opponents over how to select candidates for the elections and other matters.

The ruling party said Sunday that its chairman Kim Moo-sung should compete against three minor rivals in a primary for the party's nomination.

Party chief Kim has vowed to reflect the voice of ordinary voters when selecting the party's candidates for the elections, an idea rejected by those who are loyal to President Park.


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