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(2nd LD) Righteous Party says main opposition attack on Ban 'excessive'

All Headlines 11:04 January 09, 2017

(ATTN: CLARIFIES party title in lead)

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- The tentatively named Righteous Party, which broke away from the ruling party last month, said Monday the main opposition's criticism against the foreign ministry's plan to welcome former U.N. head Ban Ki-moon's return home with a formal event is excessive.

The main opposition Democratic Party said earlier it is controversial for the foreign ministry to hold an official ceremony to greet Ban's return home, adding the act can be seen as interfering in a presidential election.

Ban has been leading opinion polls among conservative candidates for the next presidential election, although he has been trailing Moon Jae-in, a liberal contender who formerly headed the main opposition.

"If (the main opposition) is to criticize Ban, it should focus on his activities during his term as U.N. secretary-general," said Rep. Joo Ho-young, the floor leader of the planned party, formerly called the New Conservative Party for Reform.

Joo said previous U.N. leaders were all accorded appropriate ceremonies that reflected protocol upon returning home.

"(The main opposition) will face the public's glare if it acts as if Moon already became the president," Joo added.

After serving two terms at the United Nations, Ban plans to return home on Thursday. Although the former U.N. head never expressed a clear stance on his potential presidency bid, local parties, including the new Righteous Party and the minor People's Party, have been seeking to invite Ban to join them.

The main opposition Democratic Party continued to condemn the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its preparation to welcome Ban.

"The people are suffering helplessly from the diplomatic retaliation from China and Japan due to South Korea's diplomatic incapabilities," said Rep. Choo Mi-ae, head of the main opposition. "But even in such a situation where the foreign ministry has so much to handle, they are preparing for the welcoming of Ban."

Choo added South Korea's deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system has resulted in reprisals from China, while the historical feud also remains between Seoul and Tokyo, that is dealing a harsh blow to the economy.

The main opposition claimed the Park administration is supporting Ban as a potential candidate, adding the former U.N. head should turn down such hospitalities.

Rep. Joo Ho-young, the floor leader of the tentatively named Righteous Party (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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