South Korea's ruling People Power Party on Thursday approved a plan to lift the suspensions of four party members, including outspoken dissenters former party Chairman Lee Jun-seok and Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo.
The decision, effective immediately, enables the individuals to become eligible to run for a parliamentary seat as a member of the ruling party in the upcoming general election scheduled for April 2024.
Lee had been imposed 1 1/2 years of party membership suspension by the party's ethics committee over allegations of a sexual bribery case and an attempted cover-up. The suspension of Lee would have been effective until January 2024.
Lee was leading the ruling party when Yoon Suk Yeol, then a political novice, ran for president and ultimately won in 2022, but Lee has repeatedly clashed with Yoon and his aides since.
Hong, a former presidential candidate of the party who lost to Yoon in a primary, was suspended for 10 months in July after he was revealed to have played golf while the nation was affected by torrential rains. No casualties were reported in Daegu, but nationwide 48 were killed, with five missing.
Along with Lee and Hong, three-term lawmaker Rep. Kim Jae-won and Kim Cheol-geun, a former aide to ex-Chairman Lee, were also granted amnesty.
Notably, Rep. Kim was slapped with a one-year suspension in May over controversial remarks at far-right gatherings, where he voiced opposition to having the spirit of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising in 1980 enshrined in the Constitution. Likewise, the former aide was revealed to have played down the significance of the Jeju Uprising and massacre in the late 1940s.
Both Hong and Rep. Kim's suspension would have been in effect until May 2024.
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