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(2nd LD) Main opposition party picks ex-Roh aide as new leader

2015/02/08 19:48

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main opposition party elected a former confidant of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun as its new leader on Sunday, giving him a mandate to rebuild the embattled party.

Rep. Moon Jae-in, who served as Roh's chief of staff during his term from 2003 to 2008, won the race for chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) with 45.3 percent of the vote in the party's national convention. His rival, Park Jie-won, a three-term lawmaker, garnered 41.78 percent.

"Party members voted for a change, and I will fulfill the grave mission," Moon said in an acceptance speech. "I will wage a full-out war with the government of President Park Geun-hye if it continues to ruins democracy and the livelihoods of ordinary people."

  

Rep. Moon Jae-in wins the race for chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) in the party's national convention held in Seoul on Feb. 8, 2015. (Yonhap) Rep. Moon Jae-in wins the race for chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) in the party's national convention held in Seoul on Feb. 8, 2015. (Yonhap)

Moon replaces the current interim chief, Moon Hee-sang, who took office in September after his predecessor resigned amid factional infighting.

NPAD has been headed by the interim leader since its two co-leaders -- Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo -- stepped down to take responsibility for the party's crushing defeat in July's parliamentary by-elections.

The new NPAD leader is faced with a daunting task of regaining public confidence in the opposition party, which has been dogged by infighting between a pro-Roh faction and others.

Moon pledged to end the "factional politics" by establishing a transparent and fair nomination system to pick the right candidates for the upcoming general election.

A weekly survey by Gallup Korea showed Friday that the approval rating for NPAD came to 24 percent, far lower than the ruling party's 41 percent.

The new leader is seen as a potential presidential candidate in the next election slated for late 2017. In the previous election in December 2012, Moon was the standard-bearer of NPAD's predecessor but he eventually lost to then candidate and now President Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party.

Before the national convention, Moon said he would not stand for the next parliamentary elections scheduled for 2016 if he is elected chairman.

In response to the new chief's strong stance on the Park administration, the ruling Saenuri Party urged Moon to lead his own party in harmony and make bipartisan efforts to deal with urgent issues pending in the parliament.

"The temporary parliamentary session in February should be a turning point as (NPAD) should work with the ruling party to handle several issues, including reform of the government employees' pension system and bills aimed at boosting the economy," Saenuri spokesman Kwon Eun-hee said in a briefing.

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angloinfo.com