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South Korea impeaches President Park Geun-hye

Published: Friday, December 09, 2016 @ 1:48 AM
Updated: Friday, December 09, 2016 @ 1:48 AM
By: Bob D'Angelo - Cox Media Group National Content Desk

South Korea’s parliament impeached President Park Geun-hye on Friday amid a corruption scandal that has left her isolated, The Associated Press reported.

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After the vote, parliamentary officials hand-delivered formal documents to the presidential Blue House that stripped Park of her power and allowed her No. 2, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, to assume leadership until the country's Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down. The court has up to six months to decide.

South Korean National Assembly speaker Chung Sye-kyun said the bill for impeachment was passed by a vote of 236 for and 56 opposed, with nine invalid votes and abstentions, the AP reported.

That surpassed the necessary two-thirds support in the 300-seat assembly. The opposition needed help from members of Park's party to get the needed votes, and it got it.

"I'd like to say that I'm deeply sorry to the people because the nation has to experience this turmoil because of my negligence and lack of virtue at a time when our security and economy both face difficulties," Park said at a Cabinet meeting after the vote.

Friday was the last day of the current parliamentary session. As lawmakers arrived at the parliament, hundreds of protesters rallied in front of the National Assembly’s main gate to urge impeachment.

Once called the “Queen of Elections” for her ability to win at the ballot box, Park has been battling what prosecutors say was collusion with a longtime friend to extort money from companies and to give that confidante extraordinary sway over government decisions.

Park has publicly apologized over the scandal three times.

Her approval ratings have plunged to 4 percent, the lowest among South Korean leaders since democracy came in the late 1980s.