South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 29, 2016. South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that she will follow parliamentary decision including her shortened presidency. (Xinhua / Blue House)

South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 29, 2016. South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that she will follow parliamentary decision including her shortened presidency. (Xinhua / Blue House)

South Korean lawmakers put forward a historic bill to impeach scandal-hit President Park Geun-hye early Saturday, after the opposition bloc heralded a vote on the motion on Dec. 9.

A parliamentary official told Xinhua on the phone that the bill was handed in to the relevant office at about 4:10 a.m. local time (1910 GMT).

It marks the second impeachment proposal since the country’s constitutional government was launched about seven decades ago. The latest was in 2004 for late President Roh Moo-hyun.

The impeachment motion was filed with the National Assembly by 171 opposition and independent legislators. The ruling Saenuri Party, which has 128 lawmakers, refrained from taking part in the proposal.

The assembly’s speaker Chung Se-kyun of the biggest opposition Minjoo Party failed to join the move for political neutrality rules, but he reportedly plans to participate in the vote.

Three main opposition parties, including the Minjoo Party, People’s Party and the Justice Party, have agreed to vote on the impeachment on Dec. 9 when the regular session ends.

The impeachment motion states that President Park comprehensively and gravely violated laws and the constitution in her office for nearly four years. Park took office in February 2013.

It says Park’s breach of laws and constitution was threatening enough to justify the expulsion of the president and that Park betrayed legitimacy and trust granted by the general public.

The constitutional violations, according to the impeachment bill, include the president’s permission of her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil and other associates of Choi to meddle in state affairs and influence the appointment of government officials behind the scenes.

Also included in the breach of the constitution is the government’s initial bungling of rescue operations in one of the country’s most devastating maritime disasters on April 16, 2014 when a passenger ferry Sewol sank in waters off southwestern South Korea.

Controversy arose over the whereabouts of the president for seven hours right after the ferry tragedy occurred. The impeachment bill says President Park failed to recognize what was happening during the “golden time” for rescue.

Park’s inappropriate response to the disaster has been denounced for contributing the most to the death of over 300 passengers, mostly high school students on a class trip to the southern resort island of Jeju.

The infraction of laws referred to by the impeachment motion is the bribery. Park’s decades-long friend has been charged with extorting tens of millions of U.S. dollars from large conglomerates to set up two nonprofit foundations controlled by Choi.

Prosecutors branded President Park as a criminal accomplice to Choi in multiple charges including abuse of power and extortion. The prosecution office was investigating whether Choi used her relationship with the president to grant business favors in return for donations.

The headquarters of Samsung Group was raided by prosecutors on suspicion that the country’s largest family-run conglomerate bribed Choi in exchange for support from the national pension fund in last year’s controversial merger of two subsidiaries of the group to create a de-facto holding company.

The offices of Lotte and SK, two of the country’s top five chaebols, were also searched on charges of offering kickbacks to Choi in return for getting licenses for lucrative duty-free shop operation.

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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