(2nd LD) Ex-campaign chief to head emergency leadership of main opposition party
(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 10-17)
SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main opposition party, reeling from a crushing defeat in last week's parliamentary elections, decided Friday to form an emergency leadership body headed by its former campaign chief.
The United Future Party (UFP) said Kim Chong-in, a veteran politician who led its campaign for the April 15 elections, accepted its request to chair the new interim leadership committee, which it plans to launch Tuesday.
The conservative party has been rudderless since last Wednesday, when former chief, Hwang Kyo-ahn, resigned immediately after he was defeated in a constituency in central Seoul.
"Based on an opinion survey of the Supreme Council and party legislators, (the UFP) formerly requested that former campaign committee chairman Kim lead the emergency committee, and it was accepted," Shim Jae-chul, acting party chief and floor leader, told reporters.
National delegates will convene Tuesday to endorse the decision, he said.
The party also plans to revise a rule under which the party should hold a national congress to elect a new leader by the end of August and the interim leadership panel should be disbanded before the election.
Shim said the party will push a revision to grant the emergency committee an extensive term.
In an interview on Wednesday, Kim said he would accept the UFP's proposal on the condition that it guarantee an indefinite term and the same power as a regular party chairman.
During his decadeslong career, Kim engaged in campaigning and crisis management in both conservative and liberal parties.
Later Friday, the seasoned politician affirmed his position.
"There is no need to fix the term of office," he told reporters before a public forum.
"The term of the emergency committee chairman may be shorter than one year. If I think I have done all I have to do, I can quit anytime," he said.
He also tried to reassure his opponents in the party who suspect he may be aiming to seize party powers.
"I am in a position to help the UFP and I have nothing to pursue there," he stressed.
Some in the UFP are opposed to ushering in Kim and called for an early election for the next leader.
"I object to the creation of an emergency committee in a way that does not set a definite time limit and gives power beyond the party constitution and regulations," said Cho Kyoung-tae, the only Supreme Council member who won in last week's legislative elections.
He said if Kim wants to contribute to the party, he must not pursue an unwarranted mandate, but run in the party leadership election.
In the elections, the Democratic Party (DP) and its affiliate party won a combined 180 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, largely on voter support for the Moon Jae-in administration's response to the coronavirus. The UFP and its satellite party won only 103 seats.
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