International News

South Korea: Parliament impeaches President Park Geun-hye over corruption charges

As many as 234 of 300 lawmakers voted in favour of the motion, following which Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will take over the post temporarily.

The South Korean Parliament on Friday impeached President Park Geun-Hye. As many as 234 of 300 lawmakers voted in favour of the impeachment motion against Park over corruption charges. The Opposition parties had 172 legislators, which indicates that they were supported by dissenters from Park’s own Saenuri Party.

The ousted president will now have to handover the responsibility of running the country to Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn. The Constitutional Court has six months to decide on whether it will uphold the impeachment motion. If the court decides to remove Park from the position, South Korea will have to elect a new president within 60 days of the ruling, reported The New York Times.

The president has been accused of colluding with Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend and confidante, to extort money in the form of donations from South Korean companies. The money, which was transferred to non-profit foundations controlled by Choi, was allegedly used for personal gains.

Park has also been accused of ordering her aides to leak official state documents to Choi, who has no official position in the South Korean government. On November 20, prosecutors said they would investigate Park in connection with a political corruption scandal.

As the parliamentarians voted, Seoul saw large-scale protests outside the Assembly. While most of the agitators demanded Park’s immediate resignation, there was a group of about 50 who were against the impeachment, reported Washington Post.

The three main Opposition parties had called on the now impeached president to step down immediately and unconditionally. Democratic Party leader Choo Mi-ae had said the South Korean public did not “want to enter the new year with Park Geun-hye as president”. “There is only one way under our Constitution to halt a term of a president, and that’s an impeachment motion,” Choo had said, before the three parties had decided on December 7 to pass an impeachment motion. A day earlier, the three parties had dismissed Park’s conditional resignation offer and called it a stalling tactic.

Park is the second president to be impeached since South Korea became a democracy in 1987. In 2004, Roh Moo-hyun was impeached for violating election laws, but the motion was overturned later by the Constitutional Court.

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