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Software mogul slams S. Korean presidential politics

05 december 2012, 10:18
0
Independent presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-Soo.
Independent presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-Soo.
South Korean software mogul Ahn Cheol-Soo formally ended his popular independent presidential campaign Monday with a withering criticism of the country's entrenched left-right political divide, AFP reports.

Speaking to tearful supporters, Ahn reiterated his backing for the remaining liberal candidate in the race, Moon Jae-In, but his remarks fell short of the ringing endorsement Moon's campaign had been hoping for.

Ahn first announced he was quitting the race 10 days ago, and has since dropped from public view, raising questions over whether he plans to actively campaign for Moon against conservative front-runner Park Geun-Hye.

"I am deeply sorry for giving up my bid, but it was all aimed to achieve the bigger goal of forming a single (liberal) candidacy," Ahn said Monday as he officially disbanded his election team.

Ahn and Moon had come under intense pressure to merge their campaigns -- to avoid splitting the liberal vote and handing Park the presidency -- but their negotiations over who should step down were difficult and, at times, acrimonious.

"I told my supporters earlier ... that they should now back Moon. I believe that they would broad-mindedly accept my plan," Ahn said of his decision to withdraw from the race just days ahead of a November 26 deadline for the final registration of candidates.

He made no mention of actively stumping for Moon, and instead criticised the quality of the presidential race which he said had been distinguished by smear tactics and a lack of innovation.

"The current presidential campaign completely runs counter to the hopes of people. There is no future ... in the confrontational, same old politics," he said.

Recent opinion polls put Park slightly ahead of Moon whose campaign team is desperate to win over as many of Ahn's supporters as possible ahead of the December 19 election.

The withdrawal of Ahn, who painted himself as an outsider untainted by party politics, was a disappointment to many seeking an alternative to the old liberal-conservative face-off between the established parties.

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