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Internal feud deepens at ruling party over key posts
FEBRUARY 27, 2014 04:58  
The ruling Saenuri Party is going through an internal feud amid controversies over political big wigs allegedly exerting their influences over the party`s personnel appointments. The friction has surfaced as non-mainstream groups in the party publicly raised issues with appointments of heads of its local party organizations. Rumor has it that even Saenuri lawmakers close to President Park Geun-hye asked the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae to get involved to address the situation.

The internal row started with the selection of heads of the party`s local organizations in Seoul decided at its supreme council meeting Monday. The council appointed Hong Beom-sik as head of the party`s organization in the Nowon B electoral district in Seoul, Kim Seung-je in Guro A, and Sohn Young-hoon in Dongjak A. However, the controversy was fueled by the council`s appointment of Sohn, who bolted out of the main opposition Democratic Party just 10 days ago, although the council was aware of his recent change of party affiliation. Sohn is an alumni from Chungang University where Suh Chung-won, one of President Park`s closest aides, graduated. Kim Seung-je, head of a major family-controlled school foundation, was also criticized for having run in the 2012 general elections for on a minor opposition party`s slate for proportional representation.

Kim Seong-tae, a member of the party`s non-mainstream faction, argued at a senior party members` meeting Wednesday that the party withdraw the appointments of "unqualified" people by Hong Moon-jong, Saenuri`s secretary general. Kim Moo-sung, one of the party`s most influential lawmakers, also claimed that "something has to be done" with Sohn`s change of party affiliation.

The non-mainstream factions believe that Suh, who aspires to be elected the ruling party`s chairman in the July convention, and Hong, who is expected to run in the election for the party leadership, are going too far in "planting" their own people in important party posts. It is in the same vein that Ji Sang-wook, a former spokesman of the now-defunct Liberty Forward Party, has been named head of the party`s Jung district organization over Na Kyung-won, a former Saenuri lawmaker.

The selection issue of head of the party`s Gyeonggi provincial committee that has been vacant for six months is another cause for the internal dispute. The party leadership has asked Representative Kim Hak-yong to take the position and accordingly reshuffled party posts. However, the party has to prepare a primary as Hwang Jin-ha, a third-term lawmaker, has jumped into the competition for the post. Non-mainstream lawmakers argue that Suh is backing Hwang, rather than Kim Hak-yong, who is close to Suh`s rival Kim Moo-sung.

As the internal feud aggravates, some pro-Park lawmakers are said to have asked the presidential office to intervene to "correct wrong appointments and reasonably resolve the issue of appointing the chairman of the Gyeonggi provincial committee." Suh`s camp denied his alleged involvement in the appointment processes. Hong also argued that he had no intention of running for party leadership, claiming that the appointments were "normal" one based on the judgment that the appointees were "necessary" to the party.

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