Park’s im­peach­ment could split rul­ing Saenuri Party

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ASSOCIATED PRESS in Seoul

South Korea’s con­ser­va­tive rul­ing party is on the verge of a split fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye’s par­lia­men­tary im­peach­ment last week.

Kim Moo-sung, leader of anti-Park law­mak­ers in the Saenuri Party, on Tues­day called Park loy­al­ists her “po­lit­i­cal slaves” in an es­ca­la­tion of harsh rhetoric be­tween ri­val fac­tions in the largest po­lit­i­cal party in South Korea.

He told a tele­vised con­fer­ence that he and fel­low law­mak­ers are con­sid­er­ing leav­ing the party to cre­ate a new po­lit­i­cal group.

The feud­ing has in­ten­si­fied after dozens of Saenuri Party law­mak­ers aligned with a coali­tion of lib­eral op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers to im­peach Park on Fri­day be­cause of a scan­dal in­volv­ing her long­time, shad­owy con­fi­dante.

Park sup­port­ers in the party crit­i­cized anti-Park mem­bers for be­tray­ing the em­bat­tled leader and told them to leave the party.

“It’s re­ally hard to tol­er­ate the fact that some peo­ple, who had en­joyed all the ben­e­fits and po­lit­i­cal con­ve­niences un­der the big ‘Park Geun-hye’ roof, took the ini­tia­tive in the im­peach­ment in a harsher man­ner than op­po­si­tion par­ties,” Choi Kyung-kwan, a se­nior party mem­ber who served as Park’s fi­nance min­is­ter, said on his Face­book page on Mon­day.

But Kim said it was Park who be­trayed the pub­lic and the party, de­scrib­ing her ties with her loy­al­ists as sim­i­lar to those of “gang­sters”.

Park’s pres­i­dency will for­mally end if the Con­sti­tu­tional Court ap­proves the im­peach­ment. That would lead to an elec­tion to pick her suc­ces­sor.

If that hap­pens, then the anti-Park law­mak­ers could try to es­tab­lish a new po­lit­i­cal party in­volv­ing out­go­ing UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon and some lib­eral op­po­si­tion politi­cians. Ban has not said if he would run for pres­i­dent, but opin­ion polls put him in sec­ond place be­hind Moon Jae-in, a for­mer leader of the main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Party, to re­place Park.

The scan­dal re­solves around al­le­ga­tions that Park al­lowed her friend of 40 years, Choi Soon-sil, to ma­nip­u­late govern­ment af­fairs and ex­tort money from busi­nesses. Choi and sev­eral top pres­i­den­tial and govern­ment of­fi­cials have been in­dicted over their al­leged roles with the scan­dal. Park has avoided pros­e­cu­tors’ ques­tion­ing be­cause she has im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion while in of­fice.

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