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[Newsmaker] Ahn quits own Bareunmirae party, likely to create new one

Former presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo said Wednesday he has decided to leave the party he co-founded two years ago, in an apparent move to create a new group for the April general elections.

The former chief of the Bareunmirae Party, who returned from abroad last week after more than a year’s absence from the political scene, said he was giving up on the minor opposition party, blaming party leaders for failing to present a vision for new politics. The move came after the party’s incumbent chief Sohn Hak-kyu rejected Ahn’s request that he retire from the top position.

Ahn Cheol-soo (Yonhap)
Ahn Cheol-soo (Yonhap)

“Two years ago, I created Bareunmirae Party with a vision of moving politics a step forward through unity,” Ahn said during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Yeouido in central Seoul.

“However, the party is confined to internal strife and yoke without consolidating the foundation for reconstruction of the party.”

On Monday, Ahn proposed that the party shift its system to an emergency committee with him heading it in a bid to rebuild. He also asked Sohn to step down from his position.

Sohn rejected the suggestion, retorting that it felt more like the dismissal of the CEO by the owner of a company. “It is very wrong thinking if he thinks that the party belongs to him because he created it as if exerting his ownership,” Sohn said in a press conference Tuesday.

The number of seats the Bareunmirae Party holds in the 300-person National Assembly dwindled to 20 from 28, as co-founder Yoo Seong-min and other lawmakers defected from it for the New Conservative Party.

Ahn’s departure will take a toll on the prospects of Bareunmirae’s election race as more members are expected to leave the party to join Ahn’s new fraction.

Although Ahn hasn’t officially announced the creation of a new party, it is widely expected that he will do so as he has vowed to present a political movement to shore up a pragmatic and centric politics. If so, it will be the fourth time that he is creating a new party since joining the politics in 2011.

“There will be no tomorrow with the framework of established political parties and the inertia of the old political order. We have to change the one-sided and ideology-based politics to pragmatic politics,” Ahn said.

By Park Han-na (