South Kore­ans urge res­ig­na­tion of scan­dal-hit Pres­i­dent

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide -

OVER One mil­lion South Kore­ans have taken to the streets of Seoul and other pro­vin­cial cities to de­mand the res­ig­na­tion of scan­dal-hit Pres­i­dent Park Ge­unhye, protest or­gan­is­ers have claimed.

In one of the largest anti-govern­ment protests in decades, or­gan­is­ers said around 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple ral­lied in the cap­i­tal Seoul on Satur­day, while 400 000 peo­ple demon­strated in pro­vin­cial cities.

Par­ents, chil­dren, univer­sity stu­dents and Bud­dhist monks were among those protest­ing for a fifth straight week de­mand­ing that Park step down.

Peo­ple beat drums and chanted “Park get out now” as they walked to­wards the pres­i­den­tial Blue House that had been cor­doned off by thou­sands of po­lice.

“I came here be­cause I wanted to show my chil­dren that peo­ple are the owner of this coun­try, not the power hold­ers,” Shim Kyu-Il, a 47-year-old com­pany em­ployee, told the AFP news agency.

Harry Fawcett, re­port­ing from Seoul, said the protest was among the largest the coun­try had seen, and may have eclipsed the mil­lion-plus protest two weeks ago .

“If ver­i­fied this is the big­gest protest in South Korean his­tory, never-mind in the course of this par­tic­u­lar scan­dal,” he said.

Park has is­sued public apolo­gies over the in­flu­ence-ped­dling scan­dal in­volv­ing her long-time con­fi­dante Choi Soon-Sil, who has been ar­rested for fraud and abuse of power, but has de­fied re­peated calls to re­sign.

Choi is also ac­cused of in­ter­fer­ing in govern­ment af­fairs, de­spite hold­ing no of­fi­cial po­si­tion.

The 60-year-old al­legedly lever­aged her re­la­tion­ship with Park to co­erce do­na­tions from con­glom­er­ates, in­clud­ing SK, Lotte and Sam­sung, to non-profit foun­da­tions which she set up and used for per­sonal gain.

“Park has pres­i­den­tial im­mu­nity whilst she is in of­fice from the crim­i­nal case sur­round­ing Choi, but the op­po­si­tion is now say­ing they will move to im­peach her next Fri­day or the Fri­day af­ter - they will make the mo­tion on Thurs­day and the vote would hap­pen on Fri­day,” our correspondent added.

If par­lia­ment passes the im­peach­ment mo­tion, Park will be sus­pended from of­fi­cial du­ties and re­placed by the prime min­is­ter. The Con­sti­tu­tional Court would need to ap­prove the im­peach­ment.

“Even though the Con­sti­tu­tional Court is deemed con­ser­va­tive, they would be un­able to defy the peo­ple’s wish to oust Park”, Kang Won-Taek, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor of the Seoul Na­tional Univer­sity, said.

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.

The head­quar­ters of SK, Lotte and Sam­sung were raided by state pros­e­cu­tors this week along with the of­fices of the fi­nance min­istry and state pen­sion fund.

Ac­cord­ing to the AFP, a poll this week in­di­cated that nine out of 10 South Kore­ans want Park kicked out of of­fice.— Al Jazeera

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