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LKP advised to sever ties with former president

Sept 14,2017
A panel recommended the Liberty Korea Party sever its ties to former President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday.

“The party must recommend Park give up her party membership by holding her politically responsible for the failure to operate the country,” said Lew Seok-choon, chief of the party’s so-called innovation panel. Lew, recruited in July to help the party recover from the political scandal that led to Park’s removal, said she must be kicked out if she doesn’t leave voluntarily.

Lew also recommended that Reps. Suh Chung-won and Choi Kyung-hwan, key associates of Park, should be asked to leave because their factionalist politics dragged the party down. “If they do not accept the recommendation, the party must also expel them,” Lew said.

Other Park allies who used their power to sway the nomination process for last year’s general election must also admit to their faults and work for the unity of the party. “Or else, the innovation panel may take additional actions against them,” Lew said.

The announcement was the third in a series of reforms that Lew’s panel has announced over the past months. The panel also said Wednesday that those who left the party during the wars led by the pro-Park faction should be allowed to return.

The party is trying to clean up its image before next June’s local elections.

The recommendation to allow the return of defectors could lead to a merger with the Bareun Party. Following the impeachment of Park last December, some 30 lawmakers broke away and created the separate Bareun Party. As of now, the Bareun Party has 20 lawmakers in the National Assembly.

Lew also urged the Supreme Council of the party, the highest decision-making body, to endorse its reforms as soon as possible.

It remains to be seen if the recommendation on Park’s expulsion will be accepted. Chairman Hong Joon-pyo said the leadership will make a decision after a court finishes Park’s trial in mid-October. Park, following her impeachment and removal, was indicted on charges of abusing her power and receiving bribes. Her trial is currently proceeding in the Seoul Central District Court.

Hong also made clear that the innovation panel’s reforms are mere recommendations. “At the end of the day, it’s the party that will act,” he said.

The party’s ethics committee and its Supreme Council have the authority to decide Park’s fate. The ethics committee should hold a meeting and make a recommendation. The Supreme Council then votes to finalize an action.

After receiving a formal recommendation to quit, Park will have to surrender her membership within 10 days. If she does not, she will automatically be expelled.

The Bareun Party reacted sensitively to the idea of a merger. “Don’t even talk about a conservative merger,” said Rep. Choung Byoung-gug, former head of the Bareun Party.

Rep. Yoo Seong-min, the Bareun Party’s former presidential candidate, also criticized the idea that the defectors should return to the Liberty Korea Party after it loses Park.

“They used her during the election to win votes, and they are kicking her out now the election is over,” Yoo said. “It is unreasonable and incomprehensible. It is just a political show.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]