Power struggle grips leftist party
Lee Jung-hee, a co-leader of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), rejected a call for her resignation, Monday, proposing a hearing and reinvestigation of a primary vote rigging case.
A task force had earlier released findings of their investigation that showed rigging and irregularities were quite prevalent.
Thus, the struggle for control of the minor leftist party between Lee’s faction, composed of old party members, and that for newcomers is only intensifying.
Lee, a lawyer-turned-politician, remained adamant on her position that she and those who are in the leadership had no intention to step down as the investigation team recommended earlier.
The eloquent politician described the findings of the task force as “a witch hunt”, demanding the UPP investigate the case again to find hard evidence.
“Peace may come to us for a short time period if we seek to curry favor with the angry public and resign as that’s what they want us to do now,” she said.
“As a former lawyer, I was trained to act based on fact and evidence and not be swayed by baseless allegations having no smoking gun.”
The UPP leader made the remarks after the party’s investigation team concluded there had been a variety of vote-rigging cases during the competition to select UPP candidates for the proportional representation system in the April 11 National Assembly elections.
The team recommended the current leadership, as well as lawmakers-elect on the system, to resign to take responsibility for the corruption scandal.
The target of the reshuffle is Lee Seok-gi, as the lawmaker-elect is believed to have masterminded the voting irregularities to make his favorites win the competition to solidify his control of the leftist party. He has yet to respond to the call to resign.
Some insiders alleged that UPP leader Lee is a puppet of the radical lawmaker-elect as she tried to defend the man behind the power struggle.
Meanwhile, the task force’s recommendations are not binding, and as expected, the current leadership opposed them.
Shim Sang-jung, a lawmaker-elect representing rebels, called on the leadership to respect the decision.
“As the Central Committee made a decision earlier, a new body will conduct the job to correct the UPP by fixing corruption scandals,” the moderate said.
Rhyu Si-min, another co-leader of the UPP, characterized the split of the leftist party as infighting. “What we are going through now is not driven by external forces, but a case that erupted from infighting,” he said.
He said the voting to select UPP candidates for the proportional representation seats was flawed as democratic rules were ignored in the process.
Rhyu said he was shocked at the violence during last week’s meeting. Some party members and post holders tried _ in vain _ to block the door of the meeting room.