S. Korean parliament votes to impeach President

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Seoul, Dec 9 (IANS) The South Korean parliament on Friday overwhelmingly voted with a two-thirds majority to impeach scandal-hit President Park Geun-hye.

The final tally on the historic bill was 234 votes cast in favour of impeachment, with 56 against and two abstentions. Seven votes were declared invalid. One legislator did not take part in the voting, Xinhua news agency reported.

Park will be stripped of all powers immediately after receiving a paper copy of the result.

The country’s constitutional court will now deliberate the motion, a process that could take up to 180 days. However, it is unclear whether Park will resign after the vote, or if she will wait for the court to rule.

The first South Korean female leader became the country’s second President impeached by the National Assembly.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn is to become acting President, temporarily assuming presidential power while the Constitutional Court weighs the case.

The impeachment was overwhelmingly passed as there are 172 opposition and independent lawmakers in the 300-seat assembly.

Before the vote, about 210 legislators were forecast to vote ‘yes’ considering the number of ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers who are not loyal to Park.

The number of votes in favour indicates that over 20 pro-Park faction members cast secret ballots in favour of the President’s impeachment. Among Saenuri lawmakers, 62 members voted for it, with 56 against.

The vote started right after a quarter-hour speech by a lawmaker to explain the impeachment proposal, which was put forward last Saturday by the opposition bloc.

The impeachment is only the country’s second. In 2004, late President Roh Moo-hyun was also forced out of office for two months. The Constitutional Court later restored Roh to power, rejecting charges of abuse of power and mismanagement.

–IANS

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