(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; EDITS from photo)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) — Transition Committee Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo said on Wednesday that he would not serve in the new government’s cabinet, officially stepping down from the new president’s first prime minister’s bid. Yoon Suk-yeol.
Ahn, a key Yoon ally who dropped out of the presidential race to back Yoon, said he decided to stay out of cabinet to give Yoon the chance to “unleash his will.” Instead, Ahn said he would focus on broadening the future ruling party’s support base ahead of local elections in June.
“I determined that after developing a plan and a direction for a good image for the next government as chairman of the transition committee, not directly participating in the cabinet would actually ease the burden (on Yoon),” he said. he told reporters during the transition. team office.
“I came to the conclusion that it would help the president-elect to set the general direction of the affairs of the state that he plans,” he said.
Ahn said he told Yoon his intention on Tuesday and the president-elect expressed his understanding.
He added that he had not recommended any candidates for prime minister, but planned to do his best to recommend people for ministerial posts.
Yoon has started vetting candidates for the No. 2 political post and is expected to announce his choice early next week.
Given Yoon’s focus on rescuing small businesses from the COVID-19 crisis, one of the strongest candidates for the job would be former prime minister Han Duck-soo.
Han is a trade expert and a former ambassador to the United States.
Given Yoon’s emphasis on promoting national unity, some of the most serious candidates are former Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil and former Deputy Assembly Speaker Park Joo- sun.
Ahn told reporters he planned to take time off to recharge as campaigning for both the presidential and mayoral elections in Seoul last year weighed on him.
Ahn was asked to respond to speculation that he could run for governor of Gyeonggi province in June or seek the presidency of Yoon’s People’s Power Party to use as a springboard for another presidential bid in 2027.
“(PPP) Chairman Lee Jun-seok’s term is until next year. I’m not thinking about it right now,” he said, adding that he had no interest in the job. post of governor.
Asked if he plans to run for PPP chairman after Lee’s term ends, he said: “A year is a long time from now…I’m planning to make a decision at this subject closer to the time.”