Saenuri Party Chief Vows to Step Down Soon, but Not Immediately

Saenuri Party Chief Vows to Step Down Soon, but Not Immediately

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- Rep. Lee Jung-hyun, the head of the ruling Saenuri Party, said Monday he will resign in the "near future" in response to the upheaval caused by the latest scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye's influence-peddling acquaintance but added he will stay put for the time being.

The remark came as a rising number of lawmakers in Saenuri demanded Lee step down, adding the current party leadership should also be responsible for failing to properly cope with the scandal, which has virtually paralyzed state affairs over the past few weeks. The party chief refused to step down from the post, adding he should first focus efforts on normalizing the troubled party.

Saenuri has been facing one of the biggest challenges in its history on allegations that Park's confidante Choi Soon-sil used her ties to the chief executive to influence state affairs and seek financial gains.

"I would like to ask for some time to manage the crisis and help the president who is facing serious challenges," Lee said, adding the party must make efforts to prevent full-fledged paralysis.

Lee asked the party members to give him leeway, adding he wished to keep trust with the president.

"We need to join forces, rather than engaging in a fight to overcome the crisis," Lee continued, adding he will step down in the near future when he believes the crisis has been resolved.

A minor group of lawmakers in Saenuri, often categorized as the non-Park faction, has been demanding a full reshuffle of the party leadership.

In line with the demand, Rep. Kang Seok-ho, one of the top party leaders, said he will step down from the post. Kang was considered the only non-Park member included in the party leadership.

"The president has lost her credibility. Lee has asked Park to establish a neutral Cabinet, but it also ended in vain," Kang said, adding the party should form a new leadership and even consider changing its name.

Some lawmakers within Saenuri, who are not part of the mainstream, delivered another statement Monday, demanding Park withdraw the nomination of Kim Byong-joon as the next prime minister, as well as calling for the resignation of Lee and all party leaders.'

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