(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with latest info; TRIMS)
SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) decided Wednesday to allow party leader Lee Jae-myung to retain his position despite his indictment on corruption charges.
Earlier in the day, the prosecution charged him with bribery and breach of trust stemming from his time as mayor of Seongnam, south of Seoul, years ago.
Under Article 80 of the DP charter, the party is supposed to suspend those indicted on corruption charges from duty. But the rule does not apply when the indictment is deemed politically motivated.
The DP's party affairs committee convened after Lee's indictment was announced, and made the decision to exempt Lee from suspension, according to DP spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom.
The DP introduced the exemption to the article last year, despite some members' criticism that it was intended to prevent Lee from losing his chairmanship.
"It is extremely clear it is the prosecution's political suppression, and we agreed the party needs to swiftly show its solidarity and unity," the DP spokesperson said.
The party affairs committee also decided not to suspend Reps. Ki Dong-min and Lee Soo-jin, who were indicted on charges of receiving illicit political funds last month.
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