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Supporters of impeached South Korean leader clash with protesters in Seoul

Supporters of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye clashed with anti-Park protesters as large crowds of demonstrators again gathered in Seoul to demand the scandal-ridden leader's immediate ousting.

The historically large weekend protests over an explosive corruption scandal pushed South Korea's opposition-controlled parliament to vote this month to impeach Ms Park. The impeachment suspended her powers until the Constitutional Court decides whether she should permanently step down or be reinstated.

While polls measure Ms Park's popularity in the low single digits, her impeachment has become a rallying point for her conservative supporters, who turned out in the capital in their thousands on Saturday.

They waved the country's white national flag and shouted for Ms Park's "illegal" impeachment to be "nullified" and the "rotten" parliament to be dissolved.

The tension was tangible as anti-Park protesters, whose numbers were much bigger, gathered on a boulevard across the street from where Ms Park's supporters were rallying.

Despite thick lines of police officers separating them, there was some shouting and pushing between the two groups, with one Park supporter hitting an anti-Park protester with the pole of her flag. There were no immediate reports of serious violence or injuries.

Huge throngs of anti-Park protesters later walked toward the presidential offices and residence, known as the Blue House, carrying candles and signs and demanding that Ms Park immediately quit.

Other groups marched toward the office of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who assumed the role as government caretaker after Ms Park was impeached on December 9, and towards the Constitutional Court.

Prosecutors accuse Ms Park of colluding with a longtime confidante to extort money and favours from companies and allowing her to manipulate state affairs.

The court has up to six months to decide on Ms Park's case. If she is formally removed from office, the country will hold a presidential election within 60 days.

Ms Park has apologised for putting trust in her friend, Choi Soon-sil, whose criminal trial begins on Monday, but has denied any legal wrongdoing.

On Friday, politicians attempted to inspect records at the president's office, but were denied entry. The group had planned to look into allegations that Blue House security officials allowed Ms Choi and her key associates to easily move in and out of the presidential offices and residence.

Ms Park's lawyer, Lee Joong-hwan, said the court should restore Ms Park's powers because there is insufficient evidence to justify her unseating. He and other members of Ms Park's legal team submitted a statement to the court explaining why the case should be decided in the president's favour.



From Belfast Telegraph