SEOUL- The chairman of South Korea’s main opposition party resigned on Sunday in an effort to pave the way for the nation’s liberals to select a single candidate ahead of the December presidential poll. Lee Hae-Chan quit along with several other top officials of the Democratic United Party (DUP) following calls for internal party reforms seen as necessary for the nation’s two liberal presidential candidates to merge their campaigns. Moon Jae-In, the party’s own candidate, and Ahn Cheol-Soo, a popular software mogul running as an independent, have been in talks to select a single candidate to challenge the conservative front-runner Park Geun-Hye.

The talks were however suspended last week after the Ahn camp accused Moon of lacking sincerity for promised efforts for political reforms, including the removal of top DUP officials he says are responsible for past policy failures. Moon later apologised to Ahn and urged him to return to the negotiation. The two earlier promised to announce a decision before November 25 - the final deadline for candidate registration before the December 19 election. If both men end up running, they will split the liberal vote and effectively hand the presidency to Park from the ruling New Frontier Party who has a lock on the sizeable conservative bloc. “We are stepping down because selecting a single candidate for the eventual administrative change is such an important and urgent goal,” Lee told reporters.