S.Korean prez candidate drops out, vows support for oppn

Ahn Cheol-soo of South Korea’s minor People’s Party on Thursday dropped out of the presidential race and declared his support for main opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol following a surprise last-minute agreement to merge candidacies.

The deal came on the eve of early voting ahead of the March 9 election and is expected to boost Yoon’s chances in a tight race where he is running neck and neck against Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“Both of us, Ahn Cheol-soo and Yoon Suk-yeol, agreed to combine our minds for a better change of the government,” Ahn said during a joint news conference with Yoon.

“We will achieve a change of government without fail, and following only the wishes of the people, prepare for an era of grand transformation for change and innovation in the Republic of Korea,” the two said in an agreement read by Ahn.

Ahn said he will work to merge the two parties immediately after the election.

The agreement was reached when the two held a surprise meeting early Thursday morning.

“The two candidates met for about two and a half hours from shortly after midnight until nearly 3 a.m. and agreed on these measures,” a PPP official told Yonhap News Agency.

“They agreed to merge candidacies and parties without any conditions to honor the wishes of the majority of the people who wish for a change of government,” the official said.

The two had been under pressure from conservatives to merge their campaigns but repeatedly clashed over the method, with Ahn initially proposing an opinion poll to pick a unified candidate.

Yoon and Lee have been neck and neck with around 40 per cent support each in polls, while Ahn has had around 10 per cent.

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