9 Dec 2016

South Korean president impeached

9:13 pm on 9 December 2016

South Korea's parliament has voted to impeach the President, Park Geun-hye, over a corruption scandal, suspending her powers.

 South Korea President Park Geun-hye makes an address to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

South Korea President Park Geun-hye makes an address to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul. Photo: AFP

The Constitutional Court will decide whether to uphold the motion and remove her from office or reject it and reinstate her.

The prime minister will be acting president until the court delivers a ruling.

Ms Park was embroiled in a political scandal that has sparked massive protests and calls for her resignation.

A close confidante, Choi Soon-sil, is accused of using her connections to Ms Park to gain influence and money.

Prosecutors say Ms Park had a "considerable" role in the alleged corruption, which she has denied.

She resisted calls to step down, insisting that she would leave the decision up to parliament.

South Korea's parliament, the National Assembly, introduced the impeachment motion on Thursday.

The assembly was dominated by opposition parties and independents who wanted her dismissed. They needed at least 28 more votes from Ms Park's Saenuri party for the impeachment.

Ms Park said earlier she would accept the vote's outcome.

Ms Park would not be immediately removed. She would only be suspended from office, with the prime minister taking over her duties.

The decision still needs final approval from the nine-judge constitutional court, which would have six months to deliberate.

If it upheld the decision, only then would Ms Park be dismissed. She would become the first sitting South Korean president to be deposed in the country's democratic era.

At the heart of the scandal is Ms Park's links to Ms Choi, who has been already charged with coercion and abuse of power.

Ms Choi is accused of using her links with Ms Park to pressure some of the country's biggest corporations to donating to two foundations controlled by Ms Choi, who allegedly siphoned off funds for her personal use.

On Tuesday the corporations' leaders were grilled by MPs in a rare parliamentary enquiry on whether they made the donations in exchange for political favours.

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

The scandal has ignited public fury in South Korea, where tens of thousands of people have staged demonstrations in Seoul in recent weeks calling for Ms Park to step down.

- BBC

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