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(LEAD) Rep. Joo to run for Saenuri leadership election

All News 14:21 July 18, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- Rep. Joo Ho-young, one of the anti-President Park Geun-hye faction lawmakers within the ruling Saenuri Party, said Monday he will run in the leadership election slated for August, making him the sixth contender for the conservative party's top post.

"Amid the fast-changing world, the public will consider Saenuri to be an extreme right-wing party that supports the privileged if someone who already headed the party becomes the new leader," Rep. Joo said in a statement, apparently referring to Rep. Suh Chung-won.

Suh, an eight-term lawmaker close to the president, has also been mentioned as a likely candidate, although he has been reluctant to enter the race. The pro-Park senior politician's potential running, however, continues to be a key area of interest in the upcoming election.

"I would like to propose holding a convention of reconciliation," Joo added, adding that he was a victim of the factional rift within the party.

Joo joined April's general election as an independent candidate after failing to win a ticket from the party. Although he later came back to the party, the tension among different factions continues to weigh on Saenuri as it tries to recover from the defeat in the April 13 polls and prepare for next year's presidential race.

Suh has been reluctant to make a decision amid criticism within the party that he should take some responsibility for the defeat in the general elections. The lawmaker's wish to become the next National Assembly speaker may also be holding him back.

Political pundits, however, expect Suh to make a decision within this week despite the criticism his candidacy will deepen the factional infighting within the party.


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