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Gyeonggi Gov. Lee pledges halt to smear campaign against rivals in DP presidential primary

All News 17:05 August 08, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, the front-running presidential contender for the ruling Democratic Party (DP), pledged Sunday to stop all smear campaigns against rivals in the party's ongoing primary election.

"From this moment onward, I will not even make any negative mention of other candidates, focusing instead on debates about competence and policies," Lee said in a hastily called press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul.

"Concerns are growing among party members and supporters about the escalating mudslinging in the party's primary process," Lee said of the background of his pledge.

Lee's announcement came as the governor, former DP Chairman Rep. Lee Nak-yon and other DP presidential contenders are locked in an intense slugfest in the overheated party primary to pick the single presidential contender to run in the March presidential election.

The DP's leadership has repeatedly warned against mudslinging between the presidential contenders and party elders have also voiced concerns over the infighting, which they said could hammer public opinion toward the entire party.

Lee suggested the establishment of standing communication lines between the DP presidential contenders as a solution to the escalating smear campaigns.

"I wish that a prior verification process can be conducted first through the communication lines about any facts or private issues requiring verification so that any unnecessary allegations or controversies are not created," he said.

Lee also urged the party leadership to step in in cases of unfounded allegations or slandering launched against the presidential contenders, saying such attacks constitute "a serious act that impairs democracy."

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, currently running in the Democratic Party's presidential primary, speaks during a press conference in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Aug. 8, 2021. (Yonhap)

Rep. Lee Nak-yon welcomed the Gyeonggi governor's pledge, expressing a wish that "it could develop into actual action, not remaining as a mere pledge."

"I have been repeatedly told that people felt uncomfortable watching the DP's presidential primary ... I am sorry for causing concerns," the former DP leader wrote on his Facebook account, shortly after the governor's press conference. "Now let's move forward and talk about the future," he said.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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