S Korean oppn seek­ing to im­peach Park next week

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

South Korea’s main op­po­si­tion par­ties said yes­ter­day they will push for a vote next week on Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye’s im­peach­ment. The op­po­si­tion had ear­lier planned to call for a vote this week on whether to im­peach Park over a snow­balling scan­dal in­volv­ing a shad­owy long­time con­fi­dante. But they later squab­bled over when to do so af­ter Park made a con­di­tional of­fer to re­sign.

Lead­ers of the three ma­jor op­po­si­tion par­ties met and agreed to put an im­peach­ment mo­tion to a floor vote next Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the largest op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Party. “From now on, there won’t be any cracks among the three op­po­si­tion par­ties” over Park’s im­peach­ment, the state­ment said. The op­po­si­tion lacks enough lawmakers to pass Park’s im­peach­ment on its own and needs help from dis­senters in Park’s rul­ing party.

A group of anti-Park lawmakers in the rul­ing party de­cided Fri­day to vote for her im­peach­ment if she fails to an­nounce by next Wed­nes­day that she will step down vol­un­tar­ily in April, ac­cord­ing to the of­fice of Hwang Young-cheul, one of the dis­senters. They also want her to prom­ise to help en­sure a smooth power trans­fer to her suc­ces­sor, Hwang’s of­fice said. It was un­clear how Park will re­act to the de­mands. She said Tues­day she would leave of­fice if par­lia­ment comes up with a sta­ble power trans­fer plan. Op­po­si­tion lawmakers im­me­di­ately lam­basted the over­ture, say­ing it was a ploy to buy time and find ways to sur­vive the scan­dal. The scan­dal, which has sparked mas­sive street protests and plunged Park’s ap­proval rat­ing to 4 per­cent, is cen­tered around al­le­ga­tions that Park let her friend of 40 years, Choi Soon-sil, ma­nip­u­late gov­ern­ment af­fairs from the shad­ows and ex­tort money from busi­nesses. Choi, who has never had a gov­ern­ment job, is a daugh­ter of a late cult leader who served as Park’s men­tor.

Pros­e­cu­tors have in­dicted Choi and two of Park’s for­mer aides and ac­cused Park of col­lud­ing in their crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties. Park de­nies the al­le­ga­tions, al­though she has ac­knowl­edged she re­ceived help from Choi in edit­ing speeches and un­spec­i­fied “pub­lic re­la­tions” is­sues. Park’s sin­gle five-year term ends in early 2018. If im­peached, she will be stripped of her pres­i­den­tial pow­ers un­til the Con­sti­tu­tional Court rules on her fate within 180 days. —AP

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