Lee Hae-chan elected new chairman of main opposition party
Former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan was elected new chairman of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) in its national convention on Saturday.
In the DUP leadership election held at the KINTEX convention center in Goyang, north of Seoul, Lee defeated his archrival Rep. Kim Han-gil and six other contenders.
The 60-year-old Lee, a seven-term lawmaker, served as prime minister from 2004 to 2006 under the Roh Moo-hyun administration. He also served as the education minister during the Kim Dae-jung administration from 1998 to 1999, presiding over education reforms including revamping the college entrance system.
Lee garnered 24.3 percent of mobile votes by citizens and on-site votes by party members, trailed by Kim with 23.8 percent and Rep. Choo Mi-ae with 14.1 percent. Kim and Choo were elected to the DUP's Supreme Council, along with three other contenders -- Kang Gi-jung with 10 percent, Lee Jong-kul with 8.4 percent and Woo Sang-ho with 7.5 percent.
"Complying with the wish of party members and citizens, I'll devote myself to regime change," said Lee Hae-chan in his acceptance speech, referring the December presidential polls.
"From this moment, we're all united to prevent the ruling Saenuri Party from winning the presidential election."
Lee had lagged behind Kim, a four-term lawmaker who formerly served as the culture minister, in the previous votes by party members in provincial regions, but managed to reverse the race by performing strongly in the mobile vote.
Lee was reportedly backed by DUP's leading presidential hopeful Moon Jae-in, while Kim was supported by the party's senior adviser Sohn Hak-kyu and South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Doo-kwan. Lee was most recently embroiled in the pro-North Korea controversy after coming out against the North Korean human rights bill.
The new DUP chairman will take charge of the party's strategy for the Dec. 19 presidential election. At present, former ruling Saenuri Party chairwoman Park Geun-hye is in the lead after pulling off an upset victory in the April 11 parliamentary elections.
Under Park's leadership, the Saenuri Party retained its status as the largest party in the 300-seat National Assembly with 150 seats, compared with the DUP's 127 seats. (Yonhap)