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South Korean opposition aims to impeach President Park next Friday

Published 02/12/2016

Union members call for President Park Geun-hye to step down in Seoul (AP)
Union members call for President Park Geun-hye to step down in Seoul (AP)

South Korea's main opposition parties have said they will push for a vote next week on President Park Geun-hye's impeachment.

The opposition had planned to call for a vote this week on whether to impeach Ms Park over a growing scandal involving a shadowy long-time confidante, but they disagreed on the timing after she made a conditional offer to resign.

Leaders of the three major opposition parties met and agreed to put an impeachment motion to a floor vote next Friday, according to a statement from the largest opposition group, the Democratic Party.

"From now on, there won't be any cracks among the three opposition parties," the statement said.

The opposition lacks enough legislators to pass the impeachment on its own and needs help from dissenters in her ruling party.

A group of anti-Park legislators in the ruling party decided on Friday to vote for her impeachment if she fails to announce by next Wednesday that she will step down voluntarily in April, according to the office of Hwang Young-cheul, one of the dissenters.

They also want her to promise to help ensure a smooth power transfer to her successor, his office said.

It is unclear how Ms Park will react to the demands. She said on Tuesday she would leave office if parliament comes up with a stable power transfer plan. Opposition legislators immediately condemned the move, saying it was a ploy to buy time and find ways to survive the affair.

The scandal, which has sparked massive street protests and plunged Ms Park's approval rating to 4%, is centred around allegations that she let her friend of 40 years, Choi Soon-sil, manipulate government affairs from the shadows and extort money from businesses.

Choi, who has never had a government job, is a daughter of a late cult leader who served as Ms Park's mentor.

Prosecutors have indicted Choi and two of Ms Park's former aides and accused the president of colluding in their criminal activities.

She denies the allegations, although she has acknowledged she received help from Choi in editing speeches and unspecified "public relations" issues.

Her single five-year term ends in early 2018. If impeached, she will be stripped of her presidential powers until the Constitutional Court rules on her fate within 180 days.

AP

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