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Impeachment vote due in South Korea

A motion to impeach South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has been filed by the opposition in parliament. A two-thirds approval to pass looks likely because some 30 dissenters in her own party want her removed.

South Korea’s opposition-controlled National Assembly introduced an impeachment motion on Thursday, setting the stage for an anonymous ballot on Friday.

Analysts say opposition parliamentarians plus dissenters within her Saenuri Party seem to have amassed a sufficient number of votes to reach a two-thirds majority for impeachment in the 300-seat parliament.

If impeached, the nation’s premier would serve as interim leader while the constitutional court would have up to 180 days to determine whether to formally end Park’s presidency.

Public pressure, including mass demonstrations (depicted above), has mounted on the Saenuri Party to follow prosecutors in accusing Park of colluding with her longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil to sway government and extort businesses to make large political donations.

Choi is awaiting trial on charges of fraud and abuse of power. Park has been named by prosecutors as a suspect in the case – a first for a sitting president.

‘Will of the people’

Kang Sun-A, a spokeswoman for the main opposition Democratic Party, said parliament was “pushing ahead with the impeachment motion since it is the will of the people.”

Whips within the ruling Saenuri party said its parliamentarians could vote according to their conscience.

Kang said the motion included a charge that Park failed her constitutional duty in her slow reaction to the Sewol ferry disaster of 2014.

If the motion proceeds, Park would be the country’s second leader to face impeachment. In 2004, Roh Moo-hyun was impeached but then reinstated.

He left office in 2008 and killed himself in 2009 amid a high-profile corruption investigation against his family.

Park is the daughter of late dictator Park Chung-hee.

ipj/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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