Opposition leader vows break from past

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- The interim leader of the main opposition party vowed Tuesday to break away from old practices and win the hearts of the people as she seeks to rebuild her party in the wake of a crushing defeat in last week's parliamentary by-elections.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy won only four of the 15 parliamentary seats up for grabs in Wednesday's elections, prompting the party's co-leaders -- Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo -- to step down to take responsibility for the defeat.

The party's floor leader, Park Young-sun, was appointed interim chief during a general meeting of party lawmakers on Monday. The three-term lawmaker, known as a reformist politician who has aggressively pursued her party's agenda and policies, will be in charge of reforming and rebuilding the embattled party until a new chairman is formally elected during a national convention scheduled for early next year.

In her first press conference as the new chief, Park first apologized to the public for the election defeat, saying the party "failed to honor the people's will."

"I will put all of my strength into making diagnoses from the viewpoint of the people, offering alternatives with the people's hearts, and rebuilding the party and achieving complete unity with the empathy of the people," she said.

The new interim leadership, named the "committee for public empathy and reform," will be comprised of people the public can identify with, including members from outside the party, she added.

Park also said her party will rebuild itself upon principles and discipline accepted by the people and push for reforms such as the elimination of "strategic nominations" in elections.

The party's strategic nominations ahead of last week's elections are seen to have angered the public as they allowed some candidates to skip the party primary process.

The ruling Saenuri Party welcomed Park's vows and called for bipartisan efforts to pass bills aimed at reviving the economy and improving the public's livelihoods.

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