S Korean op­po­si­tion strug­gles for clear im­peach­ment plan

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye’s con­di­tional res­ig­na­tion of­fer ap­pears to be caus­ing cracks in what pre­vi­ously had been a strong push for her im­peach­ment, with op­po­nents now strug­gling to set a date for a vote to strip her of power. Park of­fered Tues­day to leave of­fice if par­lia­ment ar­ranges a safe trans­fer of power, trig­ger­ing an im­me­di­ate back­lash from op­po­si­tion par­ties, which called the over­ture a stalling tac­tic to help the pres­i­dent nav­i­gate through a huge po­lit­i­cal scan­dal in­volv­ing her shad­owy con­fi­dante.

Lead­ers of the coun­try’s three main op­po­si­tion par­ties met yes­ter­day and agreed to stick with their plan to try to vote on an im­peach­ment mo­tion as early as Fri­day. But they also said they’d meet again if that plan does not work, mean­ing they’re brac­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity that a Fri­day vote might not take place. Much of their hes­i­ta­tion to pick a clear date is due to the fact that there are not enough op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers to pass an im­peach­ment through par­lia­ment, and they would need help from dis­senters in Park’s rul­ing Saenuri Party.

The three op­po­si­tion par­ties and anti-Park in­de­pen­dent law­mak­ers have a to­tal of 172 seats in the 300-seat Na­tional As­sem­bly. A pas­sage of an im­peach­ment mo­tion re­quires at least 200 votes in fa­vor. About 40 rul­ing party law­mak­ers have ex­pressed their will­ing­ness to vote to oust Park. But af­ter Park’s res­ig­na­tion of­fer Tues­day, made in an ad­dress to the na­tion, anti-Park law­mak­ers gath­ered and agreed it would be best for Park to re­sign in April, af­ter the in­stal­la­tion of a neu­tral Cab­i­net that can help en­sure a sta­ble power trans­fer un­til a new pres­i­dent is elected, ac­cord­ing to the of­fice of Hwang Young-cheul, one of the law­mak­ers who at­tended the meet­ing.

They said they would still take part in a pos­si­ble im­peach­ment vote on Dec 9 if de­tails for an April res­ig­na­tion aren’t worked out through ne­go­ti­a­tions, Hwang’s of­fice said. Op­po­si­tion par­ties have pre­vi­ously said a vote on Park’s im­peach­ment would take place ei­ther on Fri­day or Dec 9, be­cause par­lia­men­tary ple­nary ses­sions are al­ready sched­uled on those days. “It’s true that some cracks have taken place at anti-Park forces in the Saenuri Party af­ter her speech,” said an of­fi­cial at the main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Party, for­merly known by its Korean-lan­guage name, Min­joo. The of­fi­cial, who re­quested anonymity be­cause he wasn’t au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia, said op­po­si­tion par­ties are us­ing unof­fi­cial, back­room chan­nels to see if they can still se­cure enough Saenuri law­mak­ers who would align with their im­peach­ment drive.

If im­peached, Park’s pres­i­den­tial pow­ers would be sus­pended un­til the Con­sti­tu­tional Court makes a rul­ing on her fate. The court would have 180 days to de­lib­er­ate. Park, in her Tues­day speech, con­tin­ued to deny ac­cu­sa­tions by pros­e­cu­tors that she col­luded in the crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties of her long­time friend Choi Soon-sil, who, de­spite hav­ing no of­fi­cial role in gov­ern­ment, al­legedly had a say in pol­icy de­ci­sions and ex­ploited her pres­i­den­tial ties to bully com­pa­nies into giv­ing large sums of money to busi­nesses and foun­da­tions that Choi con­trolled.

Pros­e­cu­tors have in­dicted Choi, two ex-pres­i­den­tial of­fi­cials and a mu­sic video di­rec­tor known as a Choi as­so­ciate for ex­tor­tion, leak­ing con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments and other charges. The scan­dal has sparked mass protests ev­ery Satur­day in Seoul. About 30,000 anti-Park demon­stra­tors gath­ered in the city’s down­town area yes­ter­day, ac­cord­ing to protest or­ga­niz­ers. — AP

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