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No mercy for South Korea's embattled president

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
No mercy for South Korea's embattled president

<p><br /> <br /> </p> <p>South Korea’s opposition parties have vowed to push ahead with attempts to impeach President Park Geun-hye.</p> <p>They have rejected her offer to resign amid a growing influence-peddling scandal.</p> <p>They have also called on members of her Saenuri Party to join them.</p> <br /> <br /> <h3>A dramatic move</h3> <br /> <br /> <p>In a dramatic move that shifted the burden of resolving the crisis engulfing her presidency, Park asked parliament on Tuesday to decide how and when she should quit.</p> <br /> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">South Korea's Park says she is willing to step down – and that what will happen next is up to parliament: <a href="https://t.co/MitH0FNilq">https://t.co/MitH0FNilq</a> <a href="https://t.co/HKtC78Pvpm">pic.twitter.com/HKtC78Pvpm</a></p>— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) <a href="https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/803638164233613317">November 29, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <br /> <br /> <h3><strong>What was the opposition’s response?</strong></h3> <br /> <br /> <p>The leaders of the three opposition parties dismissed it as a ploy to buy time and avoid impeachment.</p> <p>They said they would not negotiate with Park’s party on her proposal to step down.</p> <p>Together, the opposition parties hold 165 of the single-chamber parliament’s 300 seats and can initiate an impeachment motion.</p> <br /> <br /> <h3><strong>What are the accusations?</strong></h3> <br /> <br /> <p>Park is alleged by prosecutors to have colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to enable her to wield improper influence in government affairs and in fundraising by two foundations set up to back her initiatives.</p> <p>She has immunity in the case as long as she remains in office.</p> <p>She has denied any wrongdoing but has acknowledged carelessness in her ties with Choi.</p> <br /> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">South Korea's embattled president offers to relinquish power <a href="https://t.co/yczHFRUGY6">https://t.co/yczHFRUGY6</a></p>— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) <a href="https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/803477027303067648">November 29, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>The opposition say Park missed the chance to step down voluntarily and the public want nothing short of her immediate removal from office.</p> <br /> <br /> <h3><strong>The practicalities</strong></h3> <br /> <br /> <p>The opposition need a minimum of 28 votes from Saenuri to pass the impeachment bill.</p> <p>This will immediately suspend Park’s powers while the Constitutional Court takes up to six months to decide if the motion is valid.</p> <p>Legal experts say the court is more likely to take as little as two months.</p> <p>If Park is unseated, a new election must be held in 60 days to pick a successor for a full five-year term.</p> <p>The prime minister, normally a figurehead position, would serve as acting head of state in the interim.</p> <br /> <br /> <h3><strong>Saenuri Party divided</strong></h3> <br /> <br /> <p>The Saenuri Party has been in disarray over the crisis and remains divided.</p> <p>Party floor leader Chung Jin-suk has said it would be best to set a deadline of April the 30th for Park to step down.</p> <p>However, a breakaway faction of more than 40 members is demanding she leave sooner.</p> <p>Hwang Young-cheul, a member of the breakaway group, says it is willing to negotiate an exit plan for Park.</p> <p>However, if there is no agreement by a week on Friday, he was warned they will back the opposition’s impeachment motion.</p> <br /> <br /> <h3><strong>The business</strong></h3> <br /> <br /> <p>The crisis has started to weigh on consumer confidence.</p> <p>It has also dealt a blow to the “chaebol” conglomerates, accused of kowtowing to Park and an aide to contribute funds to her foundations.</p> <p>Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho says the economy faces greater downside risks due to the crisis.</p> <p>Recovery is showing signs of slowing because of uncertainties in South Korea and abroad.</p> <br /> <blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><span class="caps">VIDEO</span>: Massive protests demanding resignation of South Korea's PM <a href="https://t.co/8K3w5oryL0">pic.twitter.com/8K3w5oryL0</a></p>— The Int'l Spectator (@intlspectator) <a href="https://twitter.com/intlspectator/status/802484170152775681">November 26, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <br /> <br /> <h3><strong>What they are saying</strong></h3> <br /> <br /> <p>“The only way left to go is impeachment under the constitution,” – <strong>head of the Democratic Party, Choo Mi-ae</strong> said at a meeting with the leaders of the two other opposition parties.</p> <br /> <p>“Impeachment is the only way,” – <strong>leader of the opposition People’s Party, Park Jie-won</strong> said a motion for a vote would be tabled this Friday or next.</p> <br /> <br />