Em­bat­tled Park faces cru­cial week amid im­peach­ment push

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

South Korea’s em­bat­tled Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye faces a piv­otal week, with an ef­fort to im­peach her gain­ing sup­port from within her own party and the heads of the coun­try’s big­gest busi­ness groups set to give tes­ti­mony to a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee.

Three op­po­si­tion par­ties in­tro­duced a bill on Satur­day to im­peach Park, who is ac­cused of abuse of power, putting her in danger of be­com­ing the first demo­crat­i­cally elected South Korean leader to leave of­fice early.

“The chances of the im­peach­ment bill pass­ing on Dec 9 are 50-50,” Woo Sang-ho, par­lia­men­tary leader of the main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Party, told a party meet­ing on Monday.

The vote is set for Fri­day. If suc­cess­ful, it would re­quire the ap­proval of South Korea’s Con­sti­tu­tional Court, a pro­cess that ex­perts said would take at least two months.

The op­po­si­tion par­ties need at least 28 mem­bers from Park’s Saenuri Party to se­cure the two-thirds ma­jor­ity re­quired for the bill to pass. At least 29 of them are be­lieved to be plan­ning to vote for the bill, mem­bers of the break­away fac­tion said.

Park’s pres­i­den­tial Blue House aides ad­dressed a par­lia­men­tary hear­ing on Monday over the al­le­ga­tion that mil­lion Park and her friend, Choi Soon-sil, as well as a se­nior aide to Park, put pressure on con­glom­er­ates to pay money to foun­da­tions that were set up to pro­mote Park’s pol­icy ini­tia­tives.

The heads of nine con­glom­er­ates, or chae­bol, in­clud­ing Sam­sung Group’s de facto leader Jay Y. Lee and Hyundai Mo­tor Group Chair­man Chung Mong-koo, were sched­uled to ap­pear at the in­quiry on Tues­day.

They were ex­pected to be ques­tioned about how they came un­der pressure from Park and whether they were promised fa­vors in re­turn.

‘Poor judg­ment’

peo­ple took part in a large protest rally on Satur­day, urg­ing Park to step down, or­ga­niz­ers said.

Park has de­nied wrong­do­ing but has apol­o­gized for ex­er­cis­ing poor judg­ment.

She of­fered last week to step down and asked Par­lia­ment to de­cide how and when she should leave of­fice.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties re­jected the pro­posal, calling it a ploy to buy time and avoid being im­peached, and vowed to push ahead with im­peach­ment.

They cited another large protest rally on Satur­day, which or­ga­niz­ers said was the largest yet with 1.7 mil­lion par­tic­i­pants and fol­lowed Park’s third apol­ogy last week, as the clear­est rea­son why she should be ousted. Po­lice said the crowd in Seoul reached 320,000 at its peak.

KIM HONG-JI / REUTERS

A man holds flow­ers dur­ing a protest calling for South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye to step down in Seoul on Satur­day.

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