South Korea’s president calls on parliament to arrange her exit
SOUTH-KOREA - The disgraced South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, has offered to resign and called on parliament to arrange her exit amid a corruption and cronyism scandal that has all but destroyed her administration. Speaking in a nationally televised address on Tuesday, Park – whose single five-year term will not be officially over until early 2018 – asked the national assembly to set a new deadline for the end of her turbulent presidency. “I will leave to parliament everything about my future including shortening of my term,” Park said in her third public address since the scandal broke. “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. The offer by Park, South Korea’s first female president, came after another weekend of huge protests in Seoul and other cities calling for her immediate resignation over her role in an influence-peddling scandal centred on her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. Opposition lawmakers immediately rejected the offer, describing it as a last-ditch attempt to avoid the humiliation of impeachment. South Korea’s three biggest opposition parties claimed they had won the support of enough lawmakers from Park’s ruling Saenuri party to push ahead with impeachment. Just before Park’s address local media yesterday reported that an impeachment vote could come as early as Friday. Park Kwang-on, a lawmaker with the main opposition Democratic party, said: “(Park) is handing the ball to parliament when she could simply step down.
“She is asking the parliament to pick a date for her to resign, which she knows would lead to a discussion on when to hold the presidential election and delay everything.” Park has twice publicly apologized over her close ties to Choi, a longtime confidante who has been arrested for fraud and abuse of power. Choi, 60, allegedly used her relationship with Park to coerce donations from major South Korean companies, including Samsung – the country’s largest family-run conglomerate – to nonprofit foundations she set up and used for personal gain. In an attempt to quell criticism of her conduct in the presidential Blue House, Park, who has resisted calls for her resignation and denied any criminal activity, had promised to submit herself to a special investigation. This week, however, her lawyers rejected requests for Park to submit herself to questioning by the Choi prosecutors. Instead the 64-year-old Park will prepare for an investigation by a special prosecutor that is expected to begin in December, according to her legal team.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye bows after addressing the nation over a political scandal involving her and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.(Photo: EPA)