A majority of lawmakers in parliament have introduced a bill to impeach scandal-plagued President Park Geun-hye. The move comes ahead of a new wave of protests expected to draw close to a million demonstrators in Seoul.
South Korea's opposition parties introduced an impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye on Saturday, the same day hundreds of thousands were expected to march in Seoul to demand her ouster. The measure is backed by 171 of the 300 lawmakers in the National Assembly, and is expected to be put to a vote within the week.
"The will of the people that President Park Geun-hye should be made to cease exercising the duty of president is clear. The sovereign will has been shown clearly through rallies and protests peacefully attended by countless numbers of the public regardless of generation, ideology or background," read a statement from the lawmakers.
If the move is successful, Park would become the first democratically elected leader in South Korea to be expelled from office in disgrace. Impeachment would require 30 members of Park's Saenuri Party to support the bill, in order to reach the necessary two-thirds majority of parliament.
"If the impeachment motion fails to get passed because of the lack of cooperation from the ruling party, it must take responsibility for all consequences," said Woo Sang-ho, one of the leaders of the opposition Democratic Party.
Should the measure pass, it still requires approval from the Constitutional Court, which could take up to six months.
Park asks to step down in April
The president has been dogged by allegations that she colluded with her friend Choi Soon-sil to put pressure on companies to "donate" to foundations that pushed Park's policy initiatives. The president has been named in the official investigation into Choi, making her the first sitting president to be probed for criminal wrong-doing in the country's history.
The president has denied wrongdoing but has issued an apology to her country.
Protests calling for Park to stand down have intensified in recent weeks, with massive rallies taking place in the capital every Saturday. Even some within her own party have asked the president to step down and avoid the impeachment process, with some saying they would support the bill to remove her if she did not do so.
Park has asked to be given until April to step down of her own accord.
es/gsw (AFP, Reuters)