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(2nd LD) Ruling party whip vows to speed up reform

All Headlines 17:19 January 10, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS details in last 5 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- Rep. Chung Woo-taik, the floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, pledged Tuesday to speed up efforts to reform and normalize the party, one day after it appointed the members of its ad hoc leadership committee.

On Monday, the party named Chung and three others to the emergency committee headed by the interim head In Myung-jin. Previous meetings failed to convene due to a lack of minimum participants amid a boycott from loyalists to President Park Geun-hye.

"As the emergency committee officially set sail, I will seek reformative moves to change everything from scratch except for the philosophy and values of the conservative party," Chung said.

"With the presidential election approaching closer, there could be unexpected variables," the whip said. "We will present to the people a blueprint to rebuild Saenuri with responsibility and confidence."

Saenuri has suffered internal feuds as In pushed to purge Park loyalists for the normalization of the party hit by the president's impeachment over an influence-peddling scandal.

Rep. Suh Chung-won of Saenuri on Monday sued its interim head claiming he violated the law on political parties by coercing some Saenuri members to leave the party.

In repeated his call for the core Park allies to leave the party on Tuesday.

"The party should take responsibility for its past and renew itself through a thorough self-examination," In said, urging them to act to help the party's reform efforts.

Concerning a proposed expulsion of Park from the party, the interim head said the issue should be considered carefully.

"The loyalists have been engaged in political activities as party members, but Park's (political activities) were, in fact, done not necessarily as a member," In said during an interview with CBS Radio.

Later in the day Suh fired back saying In has no right to demand his resignation.

"The priest has no right to request me to hand in the badge and send a letter of apology," Suh said during a general conference of party lawmakers which In attended. He refused to use the title party head when referring to In, a Christian pastor.

"Park did not give us a penny just because we are close to her," Suh said. "We do not even know Choi-Soon sil, and it is wrong to frame all those who worked under the Park administration as criminals."

Choi, a close confidante of Park, exerted influence on state affairs without having any seat at the administration while enjoying personal benefits.

Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan, another target of In's personnel overhaul drive, also reiterated that he will stay in the party.

"I will stay in the party and protect the president, fulfilling my humane duty, even if I am left alone," Choi said.

Rep. Chung Woo-taik, the floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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