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(2nd LD) Saenuri Party officially names former anticorruption chief as interim leader

All News 16:07 June 02, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES photo, ADDS details in para 3)
By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, June 2 (Yonhap) -- The ruling Saenuri Party officially named a former anticorruption chief as its interim head Thursday, as it moves to reorganize itself and make a comeback after its defeat in the April elections.

Kim Hee-ok, the former head of the Government Public Ethics Committee, was officially made party chief at a meeting of members, more than a month after Rep. Kim Moo-sung, the former chairman, stepped down shortly after the general elections.

The new head will lead the so-called emergency planning and innovation committee, which also includes nonparty officials, such as professors and ex-government officials.

"I will suggest and carry out anything that can help in innovating the party," Kim said, adding that Saenuri is facing a "grave situation" and must "change everything except its name."

"We learned that the party lost trust from the public through the previous election, and we should be embarrassed about it as the ruling party," Kim also said, Saenuri must focus on ways to improve peoples' lives, strive for unity and become innovative as it gears up for next year's presidential election.

Saenuri not only lost the majority but secured just 122 seats in the National Assembly out of 300 up for grabs. Although it could emerge as the No. 1 player if it secures independent lawmakers, the election result reflected the public's discontent toward the ruling camp.

Since the resignation of Kim Moo-sung, the party has been struggling with a power vacuum that reignited infighting between the non- and pro-President Park Geun-hye factions.

The appointment was made after key senior members discussed ways to reorganize the party's overall structure to grant more power to a single leader last month. In the past, the party employed a collective leadership system that has been cited for fueling internal discord and bickering, which was one reason for the poor showing in the recent elections.

As the ruling party held nine council leaders, such meetings regularly failed to produce significant results.

Last month, the party attempted to kick off emergency planning and innovation committees headed by Rep. Chung Jin-suk, the floor leader, and Rep. Kim Yong-tae, respectively. The plan failed from backlash from the pro-Park faction within the party.

colin@yna.co.kr
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