Leader loses priv­i­leges, faces ar­rest if she re­fuses to co­op­er­ate with cor­rup­tion probe

New Straits Times - - World -

YES­TER­DAY’s fi­nal ver­dict by the con­sti­tu­tional court to sack im­peached pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye has fi­nally put an end to a months-long po­lit­i­cal cri­sis that rocked the na­tion.

Now that the public call had been ful­filled, here are some key de­vel­op­ments that may await South Kore­ans — and Park — in the com­ing months.

The con­sti­tu­tional court’s ver­dict im­me­di­ately strips her of all pow­ers and priv­i­leges, in­clud­ing pro­tec­tion from crim­i­nal in­dict­ment. She is obliged to move out of the pres­i­den­tial palace, but an aide said she would not do so yes­ter­day as her pri­vate res­i­dence needed to be pre­pared.

She has also been stripped of the priv­i­leges she can en­joy as a for­mer head of state, in­clud­ing the right to be buried be­side her fa­ther, for­mer pres­i­dent Park Chung-hee — who was as­sas­si­nated in 1979.

Park had been named a crim­i­nal sus­pect, ac­cused of bribery for of­fer­ing pol­icy favours to the firms that ben­e­fited her aide Choi Son-sil. For months she had re­fused to make her­self avail­able for ques­tion­ing by pros­e­cu­tors.

But that may no longer be an op­tion once she leaves the Blue House, when she could face ar­rest if she re­fused a sum­mons.

A pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is to be held within 60 days, with lo­cal me­dia re­ports sug­gest­ing May 9 as the most likely date.

Both the court and Act­ing Pres­i­dent Hwang Kyo-Ahn ap­pealed for the coun­try to come to­gether and move for­ward.

But the di­vi­sions fos­tered by the scan­dal will con­tinue — while Park’s re­moval had over­whelm­ing public sup­port, she re­mained pop­u­lar with an older, con­ser­va­tive con­stituency with fond mem­o­ries of rapid growth un­der the 1961-79 rule of her fa­ther.

The cur­rent fron­trun­ner — by a dis­tance — is the lib­eral for­mer Demo­cratic Party leader Moon Jae-in, on 36 per cent.

But Hwang is in sec­ond place on 14 per cent and con­ser­va­tive par­ties had few stan­dard-bear­ers to turn to af­ter for­mer United Na­tions sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ban Ki-moon ruled him­self out.


Park Geun-hye shov­el­ling earth into the grave of her fa­ther, pres­i­dent Park Chung-hee, who was as­sas­si­nated in 1979.

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