(ATTN: UPDATES with more comments by Lee Nak-yon in last 2 paras; RECASTS 5th para)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Oct. 13 (Yonhap) -- Former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon conceded defeat in the ruling Democratic Party (DP)'s presidential primary on Wednesday, three days after the nomination went to Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung.
Lee Nak-yon posted a concession message on his Facebook page shortly after the party's top decision-making body rejected his appeal of the primary results.
"I respect the decision of the party affairs committee," he wrote. "I accept the results of the presidential primary. I congratulate Lee Jae-myung on his victory."
The DP party affairs committee met Wednesday after Lee Nak-yon, the runner-up in the primary, demanded the panel convene to review whether the votes were counted in accordance with the party's electoral rules.
DP spokesman Rep. Koh Yong-jin told reporters after the meeting the committee "agreed to uphold the decision of the party's election management committee and Supreme Council regarding the rule in question," and keep the results unchanged.
The governor won the party's nomination Sunday after securing 50.29 percent of all votes cast in the course of the primaries since early September, trailed by the former prime minister with 39.14 percent.
Lee Nak-yon's campaign argued that the ballots thrown in support of two other candidates who later dropped out should be included in the total vote count, which would reduce Lee Jae-myung's share to 49.32 percent and force a runoff as a majority of votes is needed to win the primary.
Meanwhile, DP Chairman Rep. Song Young-gil had maintained that the party's electoral rules stipulate that votes for dropouts be nullified.
The point of contention is Special Rule Article 59, which states that "in the event a candidate withdraws in the course of a primary, votes for that candidate are nullified."
According to the former prime minister's campaign, only those ballots that are mistakenly cast for a candidate following their withdrawal should be thrown out.
Koh said the panel agreed to revise the clause to prevent further disputes over its interpretation, although the details have yet to be determined.
Wednesday's decision to reject Lee's appeal was agreed by 64 of the 76 panel members, which include heads of regional chapters, local government chiefs and chairs of National Assembly standing committees.
Lee Nak-yon vowed to do his part to ensure the party's victory in the presidential election in March.
"I will think carefully about what I can do to help the Democratic Party overcome the challenges it faces, win the people's trust and regain power," he wrote. "I will add whatever little strength I can."
BTS' Jimin to release photo book next month
S. Korea to lift post-entry PCR testing requirement Saturday
S. Korea decides to scrap satellite launches using Russian rockets amid sanctions
(LEAD) New COVID-19 cases hit over 2-month low; outdoor mask mandates fully lifted
Busan to light up in purple before and after BTS concert in October
(LEAD) S. Korea to lift post-entry PCR testing requirement Saturday
(LEAD) BLACKPINK becomes first K-pop girl group to top Billboard 200
Today in Korean history
(LEAD) Opposition-controlled National Assembly passes no-confidence motion against FM
(3rd LD) Death toll climbs to 7 in Daejeon outlet mall fire
S. Korea does not recognize Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory
(LEAD) New virus cases under 30,000 for 3rd day amid waning virus wave
Unification minister says N. Korea trying to tame S. Korean government, grab U.S. attention
Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun nominated for best actor at Int'l Emmys for "Dr. Brain"
N. Korea unveils memorial stone for founder in Beijing