Park’s impeachment vote delayed
THE impeachment vote against South Korea’s scandal-hit president will be postponed by at least a week, lawmakers said yesterday, after Park Geun-hye announced she was willing to stand down early.
Lawmakers from Ms Park’s own party had backed moves to impeach her tomorrow, but now want the issue discussed before holding a vote, likely to be scheduled a week later.
Ms Park had said on November 29 she would let parliament decide her fate following accusations that her confidante Choi Soon-sil elicited more than US$60 million in payments from some of the country’s top firms, including Samsung.
Ms Park has been named as a suspect in the growing investigation, making her the first sitting president to be subject to a criminal probe while in office.
“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 had said on November 29.
Critics said the statement was a calculated bid to delay impeachment, by splitting opinion on her fate among her own party and the three opposition parties.
The speech appeared to convince some from Ms Park’s Saenuri party, creating a roadblock for the opposition which requires a two-thirds majority in the national assembly to pass an impeachment motion.
About 30 Saenuri lawmakers who had initially backed removing the president from office were wavering following her address.
The opposition insists Ms Park must step down immediately and unconditionally, while loyalists call for an “orderly departure”.
While she retains the presidency, Ms Park cannot be charged with a criminal offence except insurrection or treason, but she could be charged once she steps down.
Massive weekly protests have been intensifying over the past month, with up to 1.5 million people on November 26 demanding Ms Park’s resignation.