World Bulletin / News Desk
South Korean lawmakers will decide scandal-hit President Park Geun-hye’s immediate future Friday, with the support of two-thirds of Seoul’s 300-seat parliament needed to impeach the country’s leader.
Seoul’s National Assembly was already surrounded by protesters hours before the afternoon’s planned secret ballot – the outcome is expected to become clear at around 5 p.m. (0900GMT)
Large anti-Park rallies have for the past six weekends mobilized millions of South Koreans, angered by claims that the president allowed a secret confidante to rule alongside her and was involved in a scam to coerce companies into making large donations.
Demonstrators at the Assembly on Friday are hoping to do enough to pressure ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers to oust Park.
An estimated 172 opposition and independent representatives are likely to vote in favor of impeaching the president, but that remains short of the required majority.
However, 33 members of a rebel Saenuri faction met Friday morning with confidence that they will provide the necessary backing to suspend Park right away and hand temporary charge to Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.
The Constitutional Court would then have 180 days to make a final decision, which would lead either to a snap election or the president returning to power.
South Korea’s only presidential impeachment precedent saw the court take just 63 days to block lawmakers’ efforts to force out late former leader Roh Moo-hyun in 2004.
On this occasion, the charges are far more serious -- and Park has the people against her having endured record-low approval ratings in the single-digit range.
Either way, the nation’s political landscape is set to be transformed.
The ruling party’s implosion and association with the president means a break-up is probable, while the opposition bloc’s lawmakers have vowed to resign en masse if the impeachment motion fails.Last Mod: 09 Aralık 2016, 09:12