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(LEAD) Ruling party paves way for leadership transition

All News 12:12 August 05, 2022

(ATTN: RECASTS headline and lead; UPDATES with latest details in first 4 paras and paras 10-11; TRIMS; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- The ruling People Power Party (PPP) on Friday held a national committee meeting of standing members and declared an "emergency" situation for the party, paving the way for the PPP to switch to an emergency leadership system.

The PPP committee held a vote and concluded that the party's current situation constitutes an "emergency" under the party charter, according to party officials, giving the green light to break up the current one-man leadership and shift to the emergency committee system.

The committee was also discussing amending the party charter to grant the acting chairman the right to nominate emergency leadership chair candidates.

With Friday's conclusion, the PPP is expected to hold a plenary national committee meeting next Tuesday to approve the decision and complete the leadership transition.

Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, acting chairman and floor leader of the ruling People Power Party, speaks in the party's national committee meeting of standing members held at the National Assembly complex in western Seoul on Aug. 5, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The PPP has been in turmoil since acting Chairman Kweon Seong-dong inadvertently exposed text messages he exchanged with President Yoon Suk-yeol last week, in which Yoon was seen backbiting about suspended party chief Lee Jun-seok.

That led to Yoon's approval rating falling below 30 percent, an unusually low rating for a president less than three months in office.

Kweon took over as acting leader of the party early last month after Lee had his party membership suspended for six months over sexual bribery allegations.

On Wednesday, the PPP said it has decided to hold two national committee meetings through early next week to complete all procedures required to break up the current one-man leadership and shift to the emergency committee system, two days after PPP lawmakers held a general meeting and agreed that the party's situation is considered an emergency.

Lee, the suspended party chief, has been sharply protesting against the PPP's move toward emergency leadership, saying the party declared an emergency to prevent his return as party leader.

Just hours before Friday's meeting, Lee wrote on his Facebook page that the meeting is a "comedy" and it is an "irony" to say a party chair "shoots upon" party members, referring to Yoon's remarks in the messages with Kweon.

"The ruling party's favorability rating was never lower than that of the main opposition Democratic Party when I was the party leader," Lee said, pointing to Yoon's core associates as a reason for the ruling bloc's failure to garner people's support.

According to Rep. Suh Byung-soo, chair of the PPP's national committee, switching to the emergency committee system means that Lee cannot return as party chief even after the end of the six-month suspension of his party membership imposed last month over allegations of sexual bribery and a cover-up.

Observers say Lee could file for a court injunction against the transition to the emergency committee.

This Aug. 3, 2022, file photo shows Rep. Suh Byung-soo, chair of the ruling People Power Party's national committee, answering reporters' questions at the National Assembly complex in western Seoul. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)


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