S.Korean opposition parties agree to vote on impeachment of president


SEOUL,   (Xinhua) — Three main opposition parties of South Korea have agreed to vote on a bill to impeach embattled President Park Geun-hye next Friday, after handing in the impeachment motion on Friday.

Floor leaders of the biggest opposition Minjoo Party, minor oppositions People’s Party and the Justice Party met on Friday to discuss a way to let President Park resign after the president threw the ball of decision on her fate in parliamentary court.

The opposition bloc agreed to propose the impeachment motion on Friday and vote on the bill on Dec. 9.

The impeachment proposal requires a half support of the 300-seat National Assembly. Passing the motion must have the two-thirds ayes from the unicameral assembly.

As there are 172 opposition and independent lawmakers, at least 28 legislators of the ruling Saenuri Party must be secured to pass the impeachment motion through the parliament.

Up to 50 lawmakers of the anti-Park faction in the ruling party had agreed to impeach President Park, but the figure reportedly declined to an undefined number after Park’s national address on Tuesday.

During her third public speech since the scandal involving herself emerged in October, Park said she would step down from the presidency if the governing and opposition parties find a way to ensure a stable transfer of power while minimizing confusion and vacuum in state affairs.

After the presidential speech, the ruling party’s pro-Park faction loyal to President Park sought to stop impeachment efforts, while opposition parties denounced the address as a ploy to block impeachment.

Opposition lawmakers were originally supposed to put forward the impeachment motion on Thursday and vote on it on Friday.

The Saenuri Party has adopted a party line of letting President Park stand down in a gradual and orderly manner, demanding Park voluntarily depart from office by next April and a presidential election be held two months later.

It was denounced as a political strategy to buy time given that the ruling party has little possibility to regain government power in early presidential election. Approval rating for the Saenuri Party kept falling together with the president’s approval scores that have fallen to the single digits.

The non-Park faction members of the governing party, who are not loyal to Park, have been divided over how to remove the scandal-plagued president from office. They have called on Park to specify a date for her resignation by 6 p.m. local time next Wednesday.

Some non-Park faction members reportedly claim to join the impeachment vote unless rival parties agree on a specific date for Park’s resignation. Others insist on no need to impeach Park if she picks a date for her departure.

Opposition lawmakers plan to vote on the impeachment as scheduled though the scandal-hit president specifies a date for her voluntary resignation. They have refused to negotiate the date with the ruling bloc.

The opposition bloc doesn’t believe that President Park would keep her promise to bow out of office at a specific date given that the president repeatedly refused prosecutors’ call for face-to-face questioning. Park had vowed to accept the interrogation during her second address over the scandal on Nov. 4.

Prosecutors branded Park as an accomplice to Choi Soon-sil, the president’s longtime confidante who was indicted on multiple counts including abuse of power and extortion.

Amid soaring public anger, the president said during her third public speech that she will actively cooperate with the investigation by a special prosecutor who will probe the case independently. The independent counsel was appointed earlier this week.