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New ruling party chief vows to speed up normalization

All News 10:34 June 03, 2016

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- Kim Hee-ok, the new interim head of the ruling Saenuri Party, said Friday he do "whatever it takes" to normalize the party which had been left leaderless and without clear direction following its defeat in the April general elections.

"The emergency planning committee is the last chance the people gave the party. We do not have much time," Kim said, adding he will devote himself to overhauling Saenuri.

Kim, the former head of the Government Public Ethics Committee, was officially made party chief at a meeting of members on Thursday, more than a month after Rep. Kim Moo-sung, the former chairman, stepped down shortly after the defeat in the polls.

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.

"As the country and the party are facing hardships, the emergency planning committee has to bear grave responsibility," Kim added.

Political pundits said Kim is anticipated to face hurdles as the ruling and opposition parties are facing a stalemate in kicking off full-fledged activities of the 20th National Assembly. The two are having difficulty choosing from which party the National Assembly speaker will be chosen and chairs of various parliamentary committees.

In the April 13 election, Saenuri not only lost the majority but secured just 122 seats in the National Assembly out of 300 up for grabs. Accordingly, the Minjoo Party of Korea, which won 123 seats, is currently demanding that the National Assembly speaker seat be filled by someone from its party, while Saenuri has countered that the ruling party has traditionally held the position.

On Friday, Kim also paid a visit to the National Cemetery, which is a common practice among South Korean politicians as their first duty in office.

colin@yna.co.kr
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