- Title: South Korean president faces impeachment vote amid political turmoil
- Date: 8th December 2016
- Summary: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (FILE - MARCH 31, 2016) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** EXTERIOR OF SOUTH KOREAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SIGN READING (Korean): "CONSTITUTIONAL COURT" JUDGES AND SHORTHAND TYPISTS TAKING THEIR SEATS EMBLEM OF SOUTH KOREAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGES SEATED
- Embargoed: 23rd December 2016 07:14
- Keywords: politics Park Geun-hye scandal impeachment motion parliament analyst President park South Korean president
- Location: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
- City: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
- Country: South Korea
- Reuters ID: LVA0045C0VS5H
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Some analysts in South Korea say that even if the opposition later this week win a majority to impeach President Park Geun-hye, who is engulfed in an influence peddling scandal, the process of impeachment could take months and prolong the political crisis already gripping the country.
Park, 64, said this week she would await the court's ruling, signalling that the country's six-week-long political crisis is set to continue.
If South Korean President Park Geun-hye is impeached in parliament on Friday (December 9), she faces an uphill court battle to overturn the motion, experts say.
"If Park leaves office on her own, she will be able to keep the honourable treatment of being a former president. If she is impeached, however, the privilege will be taken away. That's why President Park Geun-hye is kind of hoping to step down on her own for now," said Rhee Jong-hoon, a political commentator at IGM Consulting based in Seoul.
Analysts say Park's case is more complicated than the one of former and late President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004. Roh is the only South Korean president to have been impeached, though the Constitutional Court overturned the motion after a two-month review.
"In the case of former president Roh Moo-hyun, it was mostly about the issues with his policies," Rhee said. President Park's impeachment, on the other hand, "is about the corruption scandal of her close associates... There are many areas and charges that the Constitutional Court has to review, which naturally extends the process."
Parliament is expected to vote on Friday in favour of impeachment, although the Constitutional Court must decide whether to uphold the motion, a process that could take up to 180 days.
This, some analysts say, could drag on the political crisis because it prolongs the political vacuum caused by a lack of definitive leadership.
"Under these circumstances, it is highly likely that the opposition parties will not cooperate with the overall administration in terms of state affairs. Then, it will be extremely difficult for the current Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn to run the government, which means it's very likely that enforcement of all national policy areas will be interrupted in general," said Rhee.
Some analysts say lawmakers cannot afford not to pass the impeachment bill due to mounting public anger against Park.
"If the impeachment bill fails to pass, the political turmoil will get worse. The public anger, which has been expressed at candlelight demonstrations in Gwanghwamun Square, will move towards the national assembly, and will even demand for its dissolution," said Director of the Korea Academy of Politics and Leadership, Kim Man-heum.
No South Korean president has failed to finish a five-year term under the democratic president set up in 1987.
The Constitutional Court will hear arguments from the two sides - the chair of parliament's Judiciary Committee for the impeachment motion and lawyers representing Park - in open hearings before delivering its ruling.
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