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Moon Jae In confirmed as new S/ Korean president

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Moon Jae In New South Korean President

Liberal candidate and former human rights lawyer Moon Jae In has been confirmed as South Korea’s new president, Yonhap news agency reported early Wednesday (Tuesday evening GMT).

Moon received 11.4 million votes, or 40.2 per cent of those counted as of 2:37 am (1737 GMT), giving him an unassailable lead over his nearest rival, Yonhap cited the National Election Commission (NEC) as saying.

With under 4.2 million votes left to count, Moon was 4.3 million ahead of second-placed Hong Jun Pyo, a conservative former prosecutor from the Liberty Korea Party.

Hong had gained 25.2 per cent of the votes counted before Moon was declared the victor.

“I will build a new nation. I will make a great Korea, a proud Korea. And I will be the proud president of such a proud nation,” Moon was quoted by Yonhap as telling his supporters in Seoul earlier.

The Asian country, famed for its technological exports, faces growing youth unemployment, high rates of household debt and fear of poverty among the elderly.

Moon will also be expected to deal with escalating tensions with neighbouring North Korea, after US President Donald Trump threatened to take unilateral action against the country for recent ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

 

Moon, 64, advocates closer ties with North Korea’s communist government, but has also stressed the importance of the US alliance.

 

The president-elect is due to be inaugurated on Wednesday, immediately after an official declaration of victory by the NEC.

 

Exit polls had already indicated a clear win for Moon right after polls closed at 8 pm, with 41.4 per cent, putting him just over 18 points ahead of Hong.

 

Despite his loss, Hong told reporters he was “happy to have rebuilt the [Liberty Korea] party that had collapsed,” referring to a split in the former ruling party over impeached president Park Geun Hye, who was forced to leave office in March amid a corruption scandal forcing these elections to be held ahead of schedule.

Ahn Cheol Soo, a 55-year-old former software developer who formed Korea’s now third-largest political party, the People’s Party, received 21.1 per cent of the votes counted by midnight.

“I humbly accept the people’s choice. I hope for the Republic of Korea to move forward into the future,” Ahn said.

Surveys taken prior to election day showed Moon – who lost to Park in the 2012 election – with the best chance of becoming South Korea’s president for the next five years.

Moon voted at a school in Seoul, together with his wife, on Tuesday morning.

The commission said turnout was high at 77.2 per cent of all eligible voters, up on the 2012 figure of 75.8 per cent, and much higher than the previous election, which only saw 63 per cent turn out to vote.

Of the total, 26.06 per cent took part in early voting last week, which included South Korean expats overseas and on ships, the NEC said.(dpa/NAN)

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