(ATTN: UPDATES with more comments by Lee Nak-yon in last 2 paras; RECASTS 5th para)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Oct. 13 (Yonhap) -- Former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon conceded defeat in the ruling Democratic Party (DP)'s presidential primary on Wednesday, three days after the nomination went to Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung.
Lee Nak-yon posted a concession message on his Facebook page shortly after the party's top decision-making body rejected his appeal of the primary results.
"I respect the decision of the party affairs committee," he wrote. "I accept the results of the presidential primary. I congratulate Lee Jae-myung on his victory."
The DP party affairs committee met Wednesday after Lee Nak-yon, the runner-up in the primary, demanded the panel convene to review whether the votes were counted in accordance with the party's electoral rules.
DP spokesman Rep. Koh Yong-jin told reporters after the meeting the committee "agreed to uphold the decision of the party's election management committee and Supreme Council regarding the rule in question," and keep the results unchanged.
The governor won the party's nomination Sunday after securing 50.29 percent of all votes cast in the course of the primaries since early September, trailed by the former prime minister with 39.14 percent.
Lee Nak-yon's campaign argued that the ballots thrown in support of two other candidates who later dropped out should be included in the total vote count, which would reduce Lee Jae-myung's share to 49.32 percent and force a runoff as a majority of votes is needed to win the primary.
Meanwhile, DP Chairman Rep. Song Young-gil had maintained that the party's electoral rules stipulate that votes for dropouts be nullified.
The point of contention is Special Rule Article 59, which states that "in the event a candidate withdraws in the course of a primary, votes for that candidate are nullified."
According to the former prime minister's campaign, only those ballots that are mistakenly cast for a candidate following their withdrawal should be thrown out.
Koh said the panel agreed to revise the clause to prevent further disputes over its interpretation, although the details have yet to be determined.
Wednesday's decision to reject Lee's appeal was agreed by 64 of the 76 panel members, which include heads of regional chapters, local government chiefs and chairs of National Assembly standing committees.
Lee Nak-yon vowed to do his part to ensure the party's victory in the presidential election in March.
"I will think carefully about what I can do to help the Democratic Party overcome the challenges it faces, win the people's trust and regain power," he wrote. "I will add whatever little strength I can."