Progressive party takes first step to expel four disgraced members
The minor opposition Unified Progressive Party will refer two lawmakers-elect and two other candidates accused of being involved in an alleged rigged primary to an internal disciplinary committee, an official said Friday.
It is the first specific step by the left-wing party to expel the four who defied a second ultimatum to voluntarily resign by Friday noon.
The four include Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon, the two lawmakers-elect, who were both convicted of engaging in pro-North Korean activities in the past.
The party made the move after the four again refused to resign, said Lee Jeong-mi, a spokeswoman of the party's emergency committee tasked with reforming the party following the primary fraud.
The party has called for the resignation of all 14 people who participated in the primary to run for the April parliamentary elections as proportional representation candidates.
The other 10 have either tendered their resignations or expressed their intention to do so, according to the party.
It is not immediately clear how long the internal process will take before the party can expel the two lawmakers-elect. Lee and Kim would become independent lawmakers-elect if expelled from the party.
The looming expulsions could set the stage for an escalation of factional infighting over how to revive the UPP, which is torn apart over the primary fraud.
The five-month-old party is in a separate crisis over accusations some of its lawmakers-elect and rank-and-file party members embrace North Korea's guiding "juche" philosophy of self-reliance.
Also Friday, Lee Sang-kyu, a UPP lawmaker-elect who won a directly contested seat in a southern Seoul district, said in an interview on the local MBC radio station that the North's three-generation hereditary power succession should not be considered wrong, though it is problematic.
Lee also said he is opposed to North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.
His remarks came amid public criticism over Lee's recent refusal to answer questions during a live television program about North Korea's human rights record, nuclear programs or the power succession.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took over the country following the December death of his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-il. The late Kim similarly inherited power upon the 1994 death of his father, the country's founder Kim Il-sung. (Yonhap)