Opposition rejects president’s crisis remedy
SOUTH Korean opposition parties yesterday rejected President Park Geunhye’s offer to share power to overcome a crippling crisis, calling in effect for a caretaker government.
In a major climbdown forced by a crippling corruption scandal, Ms Park had agreed to dump her nominee for prime minister, and accept one chosen by the opposition-controlled parliament.
But opposition parties said Ms Park’s offer was too “ambiguous”, urging her to guarantee the new prime minister would be given a completely free hand in selecting cabinet ministers, handling state affairs and functioning without any interference.
“It’s not even worth consideration,” the country’s three opposition parties said in a joint press statement yesterday.
Ms Park has come under mounting pressure to step down over the scandal involving a close friend, Choi Soon-sil, who has been arrested on charges of fraud involving millions of dollars and abuse of power.
The charges relate to allegations that Ms Choi leveraged her personal relationship with Ms Park to coerce donations from large companies like Samsung to non-profit foundations which she set up and used for personal gain.
She is also accused of interfering in government affairs, including in the nomination of senior officials.
Lurid reports of the unhealthy influence Ms Choi wielded over Ms Park have sent the president’s approval ratings plunging to record lows and triggered mass street protests calling on her to resign.
Park Jie-won, president of the country’s second opposition party, the People’s Party, said the president is resorting to a divide-and-rule tactic, sowing seeds of discord among her opponents and letting them fight among themselves over who should be the next prime minister.
The presidential Blue House said yesterday that the president is sincere in her offer to share power with opposition parties, calling for a meeting with heads of both ruling and opposition parties to discuss details. –