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S. Korea presidential hopefuls merge against Park

Published on Nov 23, 2012 9:53 PM
Independent Presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo (right) shakes hands with Democratic United Party Presidential candidate Moon Jae-in prior to their television debate in Seoul Nov 21, 2012. Mr Ahn announced his abrupt withdrawal from the presidential campaign, endorsing main opposition Democratic United Party's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in who will face off with ruling Saenuri Party's presidential candidate Park Geun-hye for the December 19 presidential election. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - Independent Ahn Cheol Soo withdrew from South Korea's presidential race on Friday, throwing his support behind the main opposition party candidate to take on conservative frontrunner Park Geun Hye.

"I am giving up my presidential candidacy," Mr Ahn told a hastily-arranged media briefing, following weeks of often acrimonious merger talks with Democratic United Party (DUP) candidate Moon Jae-In.

"From now on, Moon Jae In is the single liberal candidate," Mr Ahn said, calling on his supporters to vote for Mr Moon in the Dec 19 ballot.

Both men had come under intense pressure to merge their campaigns so as to avoid splitting the liberal vote and effectively handing the presidency to Ms Park who has a lock on the country's conservative electorate.

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