S Korean pres­i­dent will­ing to step down

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SOUTH Korea’s scan­dal-hit Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye said yes­ter­day she was will­ing to re­sign early and would let par­lia­ment de­cide her fate as leader.

“I will leave the is­sue of my de­par­ture, in­clud­ing the re­duc­tion of my term in of­fice, to a de­ci­sion by the Na­tional As­sem­bly,” she said in a speech car­ried live on tele­vi­sion.

“Once law­mak­ers come up with mea­sures to trans­fer power in a way that min­imises any power vac­uum and chaos in gov­er­nance, I will step down,” she said with­out giv­ing fur­ther de­tails.

But op­po­nents said the state­ment was a tac­tic to de­rail ef­forts in the op­po­si­tion con­trolled par­lia­ment to im­peach Ms Park over the scan­dal, which has al­ready seen her con­fi­dante Choi Soon-sil charged with fraud and abuse of power.

A num­ber of law­mak­ers from the rul­ing party have backed a bid by the three main op­po­si­tion par­ties to pass a mo­tion as early as De­cem­ber 2 to im­peach Ms Park.

If par­lia­ment does pass the mo­tion, Ms Park would im­me­di­ately be sus­pended from of­fi­cial du­ties and her prime min­is­ter would take over as an in­terim head of gov­ern­ment.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court could take six months to de­cide whether to ap­prove the im­peach­ment.

Ms Park’s Saenuri Party wel­comed her state­ment yes­ter­day, call­ing for the op­po­si­tion par­ties to de­lay their im­peach­ment bid.

Mas­sive weekly protests have been in­ten­si­fy­ing over the past month, with up to 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple brav­ing freez­ing tem­per­a­tures in Seoul on Novem­ber 26 to de­mand Ms Park’s res­ig­na­tion.

Ms Park’s jus­tice min­is­ter stepped down, while even staunch sup­port­ers from within her party have joined calls for her de­par­ture.

But Ms Park sought to dis­tance her­self from Ms Choi, who al­legedly lever­aged her ties with the pres­i­dent to co­erce more than US$60 mil­lion in “do­na­tions” from top firms in­clud­ing Sam­sung and Hyundai.

“I pushed for the projects, sin­cerely be­liev­ing that they were for pub­lic good and for the na­tion. I have not sought any per­sonal gain there”, Ms Park said yes­ter­day.

The 60-year-old Ms Choi is also ac­cused of in­ter­fer­ing in gov­ern­ment af­fairs, de­spite hold­ing no of­fi­cial po­si­tion or se­cu­rity clear­ance.

Ms Park had promised to sub­mit her­self to a ju­di­cial probe, as well as a sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tion by an in­de­pen­dent spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to be ap­pointed by par­lia­ment.

But she back­tracked, with her lawyer re­ject­ing a se­ries of re­quests by pros­e­cu­tors to make her­self avail­able for ques­tion­ing.

Ms Park’s ap­proval rat­ings have plunged to a record low for a sit­ting pres­i­dent as top ad­vis­ers and some of South Korea’s most pow­er­ful com­pa­nies are caught up in the ever-widen­ing scan­dal. –

Peo­ple at a rail­way sta­tion in Seoul watch

Photo: AFP

Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye mak­ing a speech on TV yes­ter­day.

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