(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; RECASTS lead para; TRIMS)
SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- The ruling People Power Party (PPP) on Friday declared an "emergency" situation for the party at a national committee meeting of standing members Friday, paving the way for the PPP to switch to an emergency leadership system.
The PPP committee held a vote and concluded that the party's current situation constitutes an "emergency" under the party charter, according to party officials, giving the green light to break up the current one-man leadership and shift to the emergency committee system.
The motion, which is expected to prevent the suspended party chief, Lee Jun-seok, from returning as party chief, was endorsed by 29 out of 40 members who attended the meeting.
The committee also approved of amending the party charter to grant the acting chairman the right to nominate emergency leadership chair candidates.
With Friday's conclusion, the PPP is expected to hold a plenary national committee meeting next Tuesday to complete the leadership transition and form an interim leadership committee comprising 15 members, including a chair.
The PPP has been in turmoil since acting Chairman Kweon Seong-dong inadvertently exposed text messages he exchanged with President Yoon Suk-yeol last week, in which Yoon was seen backbiting about the suspended party chief Lee.
That led to Yoon's approval rating falling below 30 percent, an unusually low rating for a president less than three months in office.
Kweon took over as acting leader of the party early last month after Lee had his party membership suspended for six months over sexual bribery allegations.
Switching to the emergency committee system will likely prevent Lee from returning as party chief even after the end of the six-month suspension of his party membership imposed last month over allegations of sexual bribery and a cover-up
The transition to emergency leadership means the dissolution of the current leadership, including Lee, Rep. Suh Byung-soo, chair of the PPP's national committee, told reporters after Friday's meeting.
Lee has sharply protested against the PPP's move.
Just hours before Friday's meeting, Lee wrote on his Facebook page that the meeting is a "comedy" and it is an "irony" to say a party chair "shoots upon" party members, referring to Yoon's remarks in the messages with Kweon.
"The ruling party's favorability rating was never lower than that of the main opposition Democratic Party when I was the party leader," Lee said, pointing to Yoon's core associates as a reason for the ruling bloc's failure to garner people's support.
Observers say Lee could file for a court injunction against the transition to the emergency committee.