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(LEAD) Minor opposition party member resigns from party post over merger

2016/03/11 11:35

(ATTN: EXPANDS dateline; ADDS photo and Ahn's comment in 7-8 paras)

SEOUL/DAEJEON, March 11 (Yonhap) -- A senior member of the minor opposition People's Party resigned from his post Friday, deepening an internal feud over a possible merger with the main opposition party ahead of the April 13 general elections.

Rep. Kim Han-gil, the head of the party's election planning committee, said he will step down after he failed to persuade the party's co-chairman Ahn Cheol-soo to join forces with the Minjoo Party of Korea to win more seats in the upcoming polls.

"I held a meeting with two chairmen yesterday night to explain that the coalition of the opposition bloc in Seoul and the surrounding areas in Gyeonggi Province is critical," the lawmaker said.

Ahn, Kim and the party's other co-chairman, Chun Jung-bae, held talks on creating a possible coalition. Earlier, Ahn declined the offer from Kim Chong-in, interim leader of the Minjoo Party, who stressed the need for a united coalition to tackle the ruling Saenuri Party.

Currently, the Saenuri Party controls 157 seats in the 293-member National Assembly, compared with 107 seats held by the main opposition Minjoo Party. Ahn's People's Party controls only 17 seats, three seats short of holding bargaining rights.

Kim further argued that a coalition must be forged to prevent Saenuri from winning more seats and to keep it from achieving a sweeping victory in the elections.

Just hours before Kim's announcement, Ahn reiterated his stance that a possible merger or coalition of the opposition bloc is not an option.

"The party held a meeting and made its decision," Ahn pointed out to reporters during his visit to the central city of Daejeon, making it clear that the party as a whole opposes a merger.

The coalition offer was made more than two months after the three lawmakers left the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, the predecessor of the Minjoo Party, due to an internal strife.

Kim Han-gil of the minor opposition People's Party talks to reporters on March 11, 2016 over resigning from his party post over a possible merger with the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea. (Yonhap) Kim Han-gil of the minor opposition People's Party talks to reporters on March 11, 2016 over resigning from his party post over a possible merger with the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea. (Yonhap)

khj@yna.co.kr

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