Park’s im­peach­ment vote de­layed

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Seoul

An im­peach­ment vote against South Korea’s pres­i­dent will be post­poned by at least a week, law­mak­ers said on Wed­nes­day, af­ter Park Ge­un­hye an­nounced she was will­ing to step down early.

Law­mak­ers from Park’s own party had backed moves to im­peach her on Friday, but now want the is­sue dis­cussed in Par­lia­ment be­fore hold­ing a vote, likely to be sched­uled a week later.

Park said on Tues­day she would let Par­lia­ment de­cide her fate fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that Choi Soon-sil elicited more than $60 mil­lion in pay­ments from some of the coun­try’s top firms, in­clud­ing Sam­sung.

Park has been named as a sus­pect in the grow­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, mak­ing her the first sit- mil­lion ting pres­i­dent to be sub­ject to a crim­i­nal probe while in of­fice.

“Once law­mak­ers come up with mea­sures to trans­fer power in a way that min­i­mizes any power vac­uum and chaos in gov­er­nance, I will step down,” she said in a live video ad­dress.

Crit­ics said the state­ment was a cal­cu­lated bid to de­lay im­peach­ment, by split­ting opin­ion on her fate among her own party and the three op­po­si­tion par­ties.

The speech ap­peared to con­vince some from Park’s Saenuri party, cre­at­ing a road­block for the op­po­si­tion which re­quires a two-thirds ma­jor­ity in the na­tional assem­bly to pass an im­peach­ment mo­tion.

About 30 Saenuri law­mak­ers who had ini­tially backed re­mov­ing the pres­i­dent from of­fice were wa­ver­ing fol­low­ing her ad­dress, the Moon­hwa Ilbo news­pa­per re­ported.

The op­po­si­tion in­sists Park must step down im­me­di­ately and un­con­di­tion­ally.

While she re­tains the pres­i­dency, Park can­not be charged with a crim­i­nal of­fense ex­cept in­sur­rec­tion or trea­son, but she could be charged once she steps down.

Mas­sive weekly protests have been in­ten­si­fy­ing over the past month, with up to 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple brav­ing freez­ing tem­per­a­tures in Seoul on Satur­day to de­mand Park’s res­ig­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to or­ga­niz­ers.

peo­ple protested in Seoul on Satur­day de­mand­ing Park’s res­ig­na­tion.

FER­NANDO VERGARA / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS. NEL­SON ALMEIDA / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Top: Res­cue work­ers re­cover a body from the site of a plane crash in La Union, Colom­bia, on Tues­day.

Above: Peo­ple at­tend a mass on Tues­day in Chapeco, Brazil, in mem­ory of Brazil­ian play­ers killed in the plane crash.

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