Cau­tious moves to im­peach Park

> Main op­po­si­tion party votes to push for pres­i­dent’s re­moval

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SEOUL: South Korea’s main op­po­si­tion party voted yes­ter­day to seek the im­peach­ment of Pres­i­dent Park Geun-Hye af­ter prose­cu­tors named her a crim­i­nal sus­pect in a snow­balling cor­rup­tion case.

But it re­mains un­clear ex­actly when Park’s op­po­nents will for­mally try to start the process, a dif­fi­cult and lengthy one with no guar­an­tee about the out­come.

Mem­bers of the Demo­cratic Party voted unan­i­mously in favour of seek­ing Park’s im­peach­ment and set­ting up a work­ing group to re­view re­lated le­gal is­sues, its spokesman, Ki Dong-Min, told re­porters.

“We have de­cided to join ef­forts with civic groups, other op­po­si­tion par­ties and even mem­bers of the rul­ing party who want Park to be im­peached,” Ki said.

He said the party would for­mally be­gin the process when it sees the “biggest pos­si­bil­ity” of par­lia­ment ap­prov­ing such a move.

Two smaller op­po­si­tion par­ties have al­ready said they will seek to re­move Park.

Even some mem­bers of the pres­i­dent’s rul­ing conservative party have come out in favour of im­peach­ment.

But their com­mit­ment to the process is un­clear for now, partly due to fear of a po­lit­i­cal back­lash if the im­peach­ment bid fails.

A failed at­tempt in 2004 to im­peach then-Pres­i­dent Roh MooHyun back­fired badly, with two par­ties that led the bid suf­fer­ing a dev­as­tat­ing de­feat in a gen­eral elec­tion the same year.

In some ways the op­po­si­tion has had its hand forced by the huge out­pour­ing of anti-Park sen­ti­ment, which has seen hun­dreds of thou­sands take to the streets de­mand­ing she step down.

With Park show­ing no sign of go­ing vol­un­tar­ily, the op­po­si­tion has come un­der pres­sure to take a more as­sertive stance, but is wary of the po­lit­i­cal dan­gers in­volved.

“Even if there is great pub­lic anger over Park for now, many law­mak­ers may be re­luc­tant to take such a big risk by walk­ing into an im­peach­ment mine­field,” po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Kim Hong-Guk said.

Park has just over a year to run of her sin­gle, five-year pres­i­den­tial term, and im­peach­ment could take months, as it re­quires a two-thirds ap­proval by the na­tional as­sem­bly and a sim­i­lar ma­jor­ity in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

There are con­cerns about a back­lash from conservative vot­ers who – while dis­ap­pointed with Park – would see her im­peach­ment as un­war­ranted and overly puni­tive.

On Sun­day, Seoul prose­cu­tors said Park had col­luded with her long-time friend Choi Soon-Sil, who is ac­cused of co­erc­ing lo­cal firms to do­nate mil­lions and of med­dling in state af­fairs.

That made Park the first South Korean pres­i­dent to be­come a crim­i­nal sus­pect while in of­fice.

Park had pre­vi­ously said she would sub­mit to prose­cu­tors for ques­tion­ing, but her lawyer sig­nalled a change on Sun­day, say­ing she would only answer to in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tors who will soon take over the case. – AFP

Res­cue work­ers search for sur­vivors in the wreck­age of the train that de­railed near Pukhrayan in Kan­pur dis­trict on Sun­day.

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