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South Korea parliament votes to impeach President Park Geun-hye

Sydney Morning Herald - December 9, 2016

Seoul South Korea's parliament voted on Friday to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal.

The Constitutional Court will decide whether to uphold the motion and remove Park from office or reject it and reinstate her. Her powers have been suspended. The prime minister will be acting president until the court delivers a ruling.

Last week, Ms Park asked parliament to find a way for her to give up power and decide when she should step down amid the influence-peddling investigation, but the opposition said she was just trying to avoid impeachment. The 64-year-old had apologised three times previously but until then resisted mounting public calls to quit.

Thousands of people have lined the streets of Seoul every weekend for weeks, demanding her resignation.

Ms Park's approval rating fell to just 4 per cent in a weekly survey released last Friday by Gallup Korea, an all time-low for a democratically elected South Korean president.

Ms Park's friend, Choi Soon-sil, and a former aide have been indicted in the case. Prosecutors named the president as an accomplice in an investigation.

As the protests against her grew larger, louder and closer, and her career, reputation and presidency march inexorably towards an impeachment, she kept mostly hidden from public view, gripped by self-pity and despair, and largely alone.

Ms Park's father, Major General Park Chung-hee, seized power in a military coup in 1961. At 22, after her mother was killed in an assassination attempt against her father, she became his acting first lady. In 1979, after her father was assassinated amid widespread protests against his dictatorship, she left the presidential palace, only to return as president in 2013.

In her apologies, a grim-faced Ms Park has said she could not forgive herself for letting her guard down with Ms Choi, who she said had helped her during her "lonely" and "difficult times." But she admitted no legal wrongdoing. (Reuters, New York Times)

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/south-korea-parliament-votes-to-impeach-president-park-geunhye-20161209-gt82au.html.

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