|Hong Joon-pyo, former chairman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks during an interview with Hankook Ilbo, the sister paper of The Korea Times, in Seoul, Feb. 4. / Korea Times file|
By Park Ji-won
Hong Joon-pyo, former chairman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), dropped out of the LKP leadership race, Monday, after the party rejected his request to delay the national convention.
"I am sorry for not being able to work through to the end. It is my fault. I will reflect on myself and listen to the people with a more humble attitude to continue to revive our country with people and party members," Hong said in a statement Monday.
"The upcoming national convention should become an opportunity to make a new party based on fair competition."
His withdrawal came after the LKP's election committee reiterated its position Monday that the national convention will be held as scheduled. Six of eight candidates, including Hong, pledged earlier to withdraw from the race if their demand for a delay of the election was not met. They hoped to avoid overlapping with the second summit between North Korea and the United States.
They claimed if the convention is held as scheduled, it will be favorable for leading contender, former Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.
"Whether they will boycott the election is their business, not ours," Park Kwan-yong, chief of the party's election preparatory panel, told reporters after an emergency meeting with panel members.
The LKP plans to elect its leader and Supreme Council members on Feb. 27. The leadership seat remained empty after former LKP leader Hong resigned from the post to take responsibility for the party's large defeat in local elections last June.