November 29, 2022

The ruling Individuals Energy Celebration suspended the occasion membership of chief Lee Jun-seok for six months Friday over allegations of sexual bribery and a cover-up, a choice that’s anticipated to unseat him as occasion chairman, throw the occasion into confusion and deepen an intraparty energy wrestle.

The PPP’s ethics committee delivered the decision after a close to eight-hour assembly over allegations that Lee acquired sexual companies paid for by a businessman searching for his affect in 2013 and tried to cowl up the wrongdoing earlier this 12 months after the allegations surfaced.

Lee, who has pleaded his innocence, stated he is not going to step down as occasion chairman and can take all attainable measures to reverse the ethics panel’s choice, together with submitting for a courtroom injunction and requesting a reexamination.

“I’ve no intention to take action,” Lee stated on KBS radio when requested if he would step down.

As a primary step, Lee stated he would invoke his energy to place the ethics committee’s choice on maintain.

However PPP ground chief Kweon Seong-dong rejected Lee’s interpretation of occasion rules, saying the ethics panel’s choice instantly took impact and due to this fact, Lee’s membership has already been suspended.

The panel’s choice represents the largest disaster but for Lee, who sensationally rose to the PPP chairmanship final 12 months amid hopes the younger, Harvard-educated politician would resuscitate the then moribund conservative occasion. He was the primary individual in his 30s to take the helm of a serious political occasion in South Korea.

Below Lee, the PPP gained March’s presidential election and June’s nationwide native elections.

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Ever since taking up as chief, nonetheless, Lee has continually been at odds with key occasion members thought-about near President Yoon Suk-yeol, who’ve been collectively dubbed “Yoonhaekgwan” — an abbreviation of “Yoon Suk-yeol’s core associates.”

Lee has claimed the ethics committee assembly was political machinations engineered by Yoonhaekgwan.

“Why haven’t I acquired congratulations and correct therapy from anybody even after successful the March 9 presidential election?” Lee advised reporters Thursday night time forward of his attendance on the committee assembly, nearly breaking into tears.

Whereas a suspension in occasion membership is the second-lowest stage of motion within the PPP’s four-tier disciplinary system, the choice is anticipated to deal a serious blow not solely to Lee but in addition to the ruling occasion that gained the presidential election in a remarkably shut race.

President Yoon Suk-yeol expressed remorse, saying he feels disgrace as one of many PPP members.

“As I’ve all the time stated, I don’t assume it’s applicable for the president to touch upon occasion affairs. … I stay up for our occasion members coming collectively to rapidly overcome the tough scenario,” Yoon advised reporters hours after the choice was introduced.

PPP’s ground chief Kweon Seong-dong apologized to the folks over the turmoil.

“That is very unlucky for the occasion,” he stated throughout a celebration assembly. “The occasion has confronted a critical disaster simply 4 months after the presidential election victory and one month after successful the native elections. It’s a obligation of occasion members, together with myself, to beat confusion and heal the injuries.”

People Power Party Chairman Lee Jun-seok (R) speaks during the first meeting of senior ruling party and government officials since the inauguration of the Yoon Suk-yeol government held at the prime minister's official residence in Seoul on July 6, 2022. (Yonhap)

Ruling Individuals Energy Celebration (PPP) Chairman Lee Jun-seok reveals feelings earlier than attending the PPP’s ethics committee assembly held on July 7, 2022, over allegations Lee acquired sexual bribery in 2013 and coated up the case. (Pool picture) (Yonhap)

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Below the occasion constitution, Lee can file an enchantment towards the ethics committee’s choice inside 10 days. However there are widespread views that even when he does so, the panel is unlikely to reverse the choice.

Within the absence of Lee, ground chief Kweon will play the function of an appearing chairman. The PPP might additionally search to carry a nationwide conference to elect a brand new chief or kind a collective “emergency management committee.”

The scandal has persistently dogged Lee since Hover Lab, a far right-wing YouTube channel, first raised the sexual bribery allegations in December. The channel raised contemporary allegations months later that Lee despatched an aide to the individual accusing him of sexual bribery to acquire an announcement denying the allegations in change for a 700 million-won (US$538,710) funding promise.

The ethics committee suspended Kim’s occasion membership for the following two years.

The committee stated its choice to droop Lee’s occasion membership was for damaging the occasion’s repute, including that suspicions of him receiving sexual companies had not been thought-about.

The committee’s choice is anticipated to reshape the occasion’s energy construction at a time when Lee is embroiled in an influence wrestle over occasion management with a pro-Yoon faction of PPP lawmakers.

Even when Lee accepts the choice and briefly leaves the occasion, it might spur a contemporary spherical of energy wrestle amongst occasion members preventing to clinch occasion management.

Other than the PPP’s inner disciplinary course of, police are individually investigating the allegations.