South Korean Lawmakers Impeach President

South Korean President, Park
South Korean President, Park Geun-Hye

South Korea’s parliament has voted to impeach President Park Geun-Hye over a corruption scandal.

The motion passed by 234 votes to 56, meaning some members of Park’s ruling Saenuri party voted in favour.

Thousands of people took to the streets in recent weeks demanding Park’s removal. After the vote, she again apologised for creating “this national chaos with my carelessness”.

At the heart of the crisis is the relationship between president Park and a close confidante, Choi Soon-Sil, who is accused of using her connections to gain influence and financial benefits.

She is presently in custody, facing charges of coercion and abuse of power.

Prosecutors say President Park had a “considerable” role in the alleged corruption, which she has denied.

Park and Choi have been close friends since the 1970s, when the President was acting as first lady after her mother was killed during an assassination attempt on her father, then the country’s military strongman.

It is alleged that after Park became president in 2013, Choi used their friendship to pressure powerful corporations into donating to two foundations she controlled and then siphoned off funds for her personal use.

On Tuesday the corporations’ leaders were grilled by members of the Parliament on whether they made the donations in exchange for political favours.

Park has also come under fire for allowing Choi inappropriate access to government decisions, something which she has repeatedly apologised for.

The parliamentary vote means Park – South Korea’s first female president – has been suspended.

The case now goes before the Constitutional Court, which has 180 days to make a final ruling.

If at least six of the court’s nine judges approve the decision, Ms Park will become the first sitting South Korean president to be deposed in the country’s democratic era and a new presidential election will be held within 60 days.






     

     

    In 2004, parliament impeached President Roh Moo-hyun, who was suspended for two months.

    However the court overturned the impeachment vote and Roh was reinstated.

    Meanwhile, Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s Prime Minister, has become interim president.

    Kyo-ahn has spent most of his career as a prosecutor and had served as justice minister, before becoming prime minister in June 2015.

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