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Prospects Dim for Opposition Parties' Merger in S. Korea

February 16, 1988|From Reuters

SEOUL, South Korea — Prospects of a merger between South Korea's opposition parties dimmed Monday when supporters of Kim Dae Jung boycotted a meeting with their rival group.

Members of Parliament from Kim's Party for Peace and Democracy and the main opposition Reunification Democratic Party were to discuss a merger, but Kim's supporters said they wanted policy changes by the other party before talks begin.

A Reunification spokesman said he believes the boycott by Kim's supporters was triggered by mounting pressure on their leader to follow Reunification chief Kim Young Sam in abandoning a leadership role.

Kim Young Sam resigned as Reunification leader last week, urging the splintered opposition to unite to prevent another defeat. Parliamentary elections are due by April.

The two Kims, who for decades have led efforts to end military-backed rule in South Korea, brought defeat on themselves in December's presidential election by failing to agree on a single opposition candidate.

The two together attracted 55% of the vote in December, but ruling party candidate Roh Tae Woo, President Chun Doo Hwan's chosen successor, won the presidency with 37%.

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