Key member of leftist party rejects calls to step down
A key member of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP) embroiled in the ongoing internal feud has made clear he has no intention of giving up his parliamentary seat, sources said Saturday.
Talks to convince Lee Seok-gi to step down have made little headway, according to Lee Jeong-mi, a spokeswoman for the party's emergency committee set up to deal with allegations of widespread irregularities in the selection of proportional lawmakers for the April 11 ballot.
"Lee (Seok-gi) held one-on-one talks with UPP's emergency committee chairman Kang Ki-kab for three hours late Friday but the meeting only showed the difference in views of the two men on this critical matter," the party official said.
She also said Kang was unable to get a reply from Lee on the issue of resignation, which the UPP said is a prerequisite for resolving the scandal that has caused the party's public support to crumble.
Lee is one of 14 party members who participated in the primary for proportional representation candidates. Six were elected as UPP lawmakers under the proportional representation system, which allocates seats to parties according to the numbers of votes they receive. Since allegations emerged about irregularities and systematic vote manipulation, most candidates have resigned.
Related to Lee's refusal to step down, UPP sources said that they are now forced to take steps to eject Lee and another candidate Kim Jae-yeon, who has also declined to give up her seat. If they do not resign, they will become lawmakers on May 30.
The party has already asked Lee and Kim to step down by May 21 or be expelled from the party altogether. Such a move, however, could result in the split up of the five-month-old party since supporters of Lee may bolt with the candidate. (Yonhap)