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People's Party dissenters move to form separate party in protest of leader's merger plan

All News 11:48 January 05, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- A group of dissenters from the minor opposition People's Party took a step Friday to form their own party in defiance of leader Ahn Cheol-soo's push for a merger with a conservative party, further raising the prospect of disintegration.

They earlier vowed to block the center-left party's national congress, where its merger with the Bareun party is likely to be approved, and organize a new liberal party.

Ahn is pushing for the merger to rally centrists and strengthen the party's parliamentary foothold ahead of local elections, which are slated for June. But his opponents argue the union with an ideologically different party will undermine its political identity and alienate supporters.

The dissenters held their first formal meeting Friday to discuss plans to form a body to prepare the new party. Nine out of the party's 39 lawmakers participated in the meeting. Nearly 20 legislators are expected to join the move, they said.

First-term lawmaker Kim Kyung-jin was picked to lead the group, which consists of three panels in charge of strategy, personnel organization and management, and public relations.

Ahn's middle-of-the-road campaign gained traction after a recent internal vote, through which he secured party members' support for the merger plan.

The merger, if realized, is expected to be a prelude to a major political realignment ahead of the gubernatorial and mayoral elections, which will be seen as a referendum on President Moon Jae-in's first year in office.

Members of the minor opposition People's Party hold a meeting on forming an internal body to resist the proposed merger with a conservative party, at the National Assembly in Seoul on Jan. 5, 2017. (Yonhap)

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