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UN chief Ban could run for president under right conditions: opposition whip

All Headlines 10:50 May 24, 2016

SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) -- Park Jie-won, floor leader of the minor opposition People's Party, said Tuesday that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon could run in South Korea's presidential race under the right conditions if he receives the support of conservatives.

"Ban has considerable political ambitions, and if the pro-Park Geun-hye faction in the ruling Saenuri Party rallies around him, he could run for president," the three-term lawmaker who was again elected in the April 13 polls said during an interview held with SBS Radio, a local broadcaster.

The veteran lawmaker then said it is much more likely that Ban will opt to champion Saenuri's cause, since that party is struggling to cope with last month's election defeat.

"Saenuri has numerous problems right now, while the opposition is showing much more stability than previously thought," the floor leader said.

He claimed that in the past Ban had considered both the ruling and opposition parties as potential options to advance his political career.

Debates have heated up in the country amid speculation that the former South Korean foreign minister will make a bid for presidency in the 2017 race.

Ban has declined to comment on issues related with local politics, adding he will instead focus on his duty as the U.N. chief. But he has also avoided taking a stand that will lay to rest his future in South Korean politics.

Such discussions have again sparked debate here as Ban will visit South Korea on Thursday. The U.N. chief said he has no plan to meet political officials during the visit, but his trip is being carefully scrutinized.

In particular, his planned visit to North Gyeongsang Province has triggered interest because the region is the bastion of power for the conservative Saenuri Party.

In a survey conducted by Yonhap News Agency and KBS, a local broadcaster in February, Ban topped the list of potential presidents of South Korea by receiving 28.3 percent support, trailed by Moon Jae-in, a former leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, which posted 17.9 percent. The survey was conducted on 1,013 South Koreans.

colin@yna.co.kr
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