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South Korea's President Park impeached in parliamentary vote

Region:
Asia
Category:
Politics
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Members of parliament voted by a higher-than-expected 234 in favor and 56 opposed in the secret ballot, meaning more than 60 of Park's own conservative Saenuri Party members backed the motion to remove her

South Korean lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Friday to impeach President Park Geun-hye over an influence-peddling scandal, setting the stage for her to become the country's first elected leader to be pushed from office in disgrace.

Members of parliament voted by a higher-than-expected 234 in favor and 56 opposed in the secret ballot, meaning more than 60 of Park's own conservative Saenuri Party members backed the motion to remove her. The votes of least 200 members of the 300-seat chamber were needed for the motion to pass.

The Constitutional Court must decide whether to uphold the motion, a process that could take up to 180 days. Under the constitution, Park's duties will be assumed by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on an interim basis until the court rules.

"I solemnly accept the voice of the parliament and the people and sincerely hope this confusion is soundly resolved," Park said at a meeting with her cabinet.

"I will be responding calmly under the procedures laid out in the constitution and the law to the impeachment review by the Constitutional Court and the investigation by the special prosecutor."

Park, who faces investigation by a special prosecutor, said this week she would wait for the Constitutional Court's ruling, resisting demands that she step down immediately.

Cheers erupted outside the chamber of the domed parliament building when the vote was announced. People held signs saying "Victory for the People" and "New Republic of Korea".

Earlier, anti-Park activists scuffled with police as they tried to drive two tractors up to parliament's main gate, where more than a 1,000 protesters had congregated.

Choi Jung-hoon, a 46-year high school maths teacher, joined the rally outside parliament with his wife and daughters, age 7 and 18 months.

"I wanted my kids to be here, making history, at a historic moment, and show we people can win," he said.