S.Korean President faces impeachment vote

Seoul: South Korean President Park Geun-hye faces impeachment on Friday, with lawmakers due to vote on dismissing her from office.

Park has been embroiled in a political scandal that has sparked massive protests and calls for her resignation after her close confidante, Choi Soon-sil, was accused of using the President’s connections to gain influence and money.

Prosecutors said the scandal-hit President had a “considerable” role in the alleged corruption, which she has denied, BBC reported.

Park has resisted calls to step down, insisting that she would leave the decision up to South Korean parliament.

The National Assembly introduced the impeachment motion on Thursday, setting up a likely vote on Friday, Yonhap news agency reported.

The impeachment will go through if at least two-thirds of the assembly vote in favour of it.

The assembly is dominated by opposition parties and independents who want the President dismissed — but they need at least 28 more votes from Park’s Saenuri party for the impeachment.

According to reports, there may be enough Saenuri dissenters who would vote for it. Park said this week that she would accept the vote’s outcome.

If parliament votes for impeachment, Park would not be immediately removed. She would only be suspended from office, with the Prime Minister taking over her duties.

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

If it upheld the decision, only then Park would 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 Park’s links to Choi, who has already been charged with coercion and abuse of power.

Choi is accused of using her links with Park to pressure some of the country’s biggest corporations into donating to two foundations controlled by her, 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.

Park has also come under fire for allowing 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 the President to step down.