opposition party-Ahn-by-election

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- Just as Ahn Cheol-soo did for the opposition presidential contender, the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) has decided not to nominate a candidate to run for a Seoul district during the April by-election to help Ahn by consolidating opposition votes, officials said Monday.

Ahn, who founded South Korea's largest anti-virus software firm AhnLab, enjoyed immense popularity among young liberal voters ahead of the December presidential election, posing a serious challenge to the ruling and opposition party contenders.

In a bid to boost the opposition side's chances, however, Ahn quit the race in November and supported DUP candidate Moon Jae-in. After leaving for the United States on the day of the Dec. 19 vote, he returned home earlier this month to run for a seat in the Nowon C district in northern Seoul in the by-election scheduled for April 24.

"Seeing it as our strategic constituency, we've decided not to nominate a candidate for the Nowon C," said DUP spokesman Chung Sung-ho.

The seat was vacated last month after Roh Hoe-chan, a minor progressive party lawmaker, was stripped of his seat upon receiving a suspended prison term from the Supreme Court for violating the Communications Privacy Act.

"To correct the President Park Geun-hye administration's practices of running the government with arrogance and miscommunication and to ring an alarm bell, it is urgent that the opposition gets together," he said, stressing the decision was made "after careful consideration for a long time."

The 51-year-old Ahn entered the presidential campaign amid growing public disenchantment with the political establishment and painted himself as an outsider untainted by party politics who represented the public's desire for change.

Ahn said he chose Nowon because it is a middle class residential area with many problems related to housing, education and other issues that he wants to tackle during the first leg of his political journey.

Ahn has never joined a party since he entered politics last year. Returning to the political circle, Ahn may establish his own party with his supporters, according to political analysts and the media, but no tangible moves have yet to be detected.

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