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(LEAD) Ahn Cheol-soo wins presidential nomination for People's Party

All News 19:41 April 04, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 2-4; CHANGES slug; COMBINES with earlier story)

SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- Former software mogul and "new politics" crusader Ahn Cheol-soo clinched the nomination of the centrist People's Party on Tuesday, setting the stage for an intense battle to stop front-runner Moon Jae-in in the upcoming presidential election.

Ahn, a co-founder and former leader of the party, won 85.37 percent of the vote in the last round of primary in Daejeon, 164 kilometers south of Seoul, to emerge the winner with 75.01 percent of all ballots in the party's in-house contest.

He was trailed by former opposition leader Sohn Hak-kyu with 18.07 percent and Deputy National Assembly Speaker Park Joo-sun with 6.92 percent.

The party announced the results after combining all on-site votes with the results of a two-day opinion survey by an 8:2 ratio. Tuesday's primary also covered the nearby city of Sejong and the surrounding Chungcheong provinces.

Ahn's victory was widely expected after he swept all six previous rounds. His nomination completes the lineup for the May 9 election that comes in the wake of the ouster of President Park Geun-hye last month.

The other candidates are Moon of the liberal Democratic Party, South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party, Rep. Yoo Seong-min of the splinter conservative Bareun Party and Rep. Sim Sang-jung of the minor progressive Justice Party.

Ahn's nomination draws him into what many observers expect to be a two-way race with Moon. It is also expected to accelerate talks among a wide range of political forces for a possible merger of candidacies aimed at toppling the most favored candidate from the largest party.

According to the latest poll by Realmeter, Moon maintained his lead for the 13th consecutive week with 34.9 percent but faced a growing challenge from Ahn, who jumped 6.1 percentage points to 18.7 percent.


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