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(LEAD) Opposition party confirms confidence in Chairman Moon to end internal strife

2015/09/20 20:36

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; UPDATES throughout)

SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- The executive committee of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) and its lawmakers confirmed confidence Sunday in the leadership of party chairman Moon Jae-in in a major step aimed at ending months of internal factional strife.

"We feel very sorry for having caused concerns among the public and party members due to an internal issue. From now on, all our efforts will be on rectifying economic problems wrought by the government and the ruling party and boosting our capacities as an opposition party," NPAD lawmaker Park Byeong-seug said after the meeting of the party executive body and party members.

The meeting reconfirmed the party members' support for Moon's leadership, Park said, adding that the decision effectively means no vote of confidence will be convened over the current chairman.

Amid deepening internal feuds and calls for his resignation following the main opposition's crushing defeat in the parliamentary by-elections in April, Moon proposed the confidence vote earlier in the month, vowing to step down if the vote results say so.

Since the unexpected election defeat, the NPAD has been scrambling to win back voters' hearts ahead of next year's general elections.

Moon and the party reform committee had earlier proposed a new set of reform measures, including how to pick candidates for the general elections next April.

The step drew vehement protest from members of minority factions inside the party, prompting Moon to stake his leadership on the reform efforts.

The results of the Sunday meeting may put an end to the months of internal strife, although members of the minority factions, who did not attend the plenary meeting, could boycott the agreement.

Separately, Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, a former head of NPAD, came up with anti-corruption measures for the strife-stricken party.

Ahn said that party members accused of corruption should be immediately kicked out regardless of their status, calling for "zero tolerance" toward corruption.

"If we do not fight corruption within our party, we cannot cope with corruption in the country. Now is the time for the NPAD to reform itself from scratch," Ahn said in a press conference which marked the third anniversary of his entrance into the political realm.

Ahn also criticized the NPAD chairman, saying that his proposal will only aggravate the factional strife.

Also Sunday, Chun Jung-bae, an opposition-turned-independent lawmaker, announced plans to form a new party. He said that he is planning to create the party by January.