Opposition Coalition Moving Forward with President Park's Impeachment

Opposition Coalition Moving Forward with President Park's Impeachment

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's three opposition parties on Wednesday said they will continue to push for an impeachment motion vote against the president this week, adding they will not hold talks with the ruling party to cut short Park's term in office.

The opposition parties said President Park Geun-hye must step down immediately and unconditionally, also asking lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party to join the impeachment motion.

The remark came after Park said on Tuesday she will step down in line with a timetable and legal procedures agreed on by political parties during her third public speech delivered since the outbreak of an influence-peddling scandal, which dealt a harsh blow to her presidency.

After the speech, Park loyalists in Saenuri said the opposition parties should start negotiations to tackle the matter, while stressing that the impeachment motion that the opposition bloc is seeking on Friday should be put on hold.

The opposition parties, which released a draft version of the impeachment motion a day earlier, said it will continue efforts to persuade non-Park lawmakers from Saenuri to meet the minimum requirement.

As the opposition parties and independent lawmakers only account for 172 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, at least 28 Saenuri lawmakers must support the motion.

A group of Saenuri lawmakers supportive of the ousting of President Park Geun-hye said Wednesday that the president must clarify her timeline for resignation, saying it would be proper for her to quit by the end of April.

The group also said it has secured a sufficient number of lawmakers to pass the impeachment motion led by the opposition.

"There was concern that we may waver after the president's speech yesterday, but we confirmed in today's meeting that our position has gotten even stronger," said Rep. Hwang Young-cheul, the spokesman of the emergency council of non-Park loyalists.

"It is important that the president clearly state the date of her resignation to prove her sincerity."

Hwang said the ruling and opposition parties must decide on Park's path by Dec. 8, adding the group will otherwise join the impeachment vote on Dec. 9.

Meanwhile, Rep. Chung Jin-suk, the party floor leader who is not included in the group, called on opposition parties to join discussions on Park's resignation and next year's presidential election.

"If the president had announced an immediate resignation in Tuesday's speech, we would have had to hold the election in end-January," Chung said, adding the public does not wish for such a hasty election.

Chung added Park should consider stepping down in April to time the new presidential election for June as proposed by senior politicians late last week.

"If the parliament passes the impeachment motion, we would have only to wait for the Constitutional Court's decision, which will lead to further confusion in state affairs," Chung said.

Meanwhile, the Saenuri dissenters expressed objection to opposition parties' attempt to include her administration's botched response to a deadly ferry disaster in 2014 as grounds for impeachment.

In a draft motion drawn up Tuesday, opposition parties claimed Park breached the Constitution because she failed to carry out her role as the head of state to protect the lives of the people as stipulated in the top law.

"Impeachment should be proposed when the president cannot carry out official duties after committing serious violations of the Constitution and laws," Rep. Kwon Seong-dong of Saenuri said, adding the ferry debacle cannot be considered such a case.

"The motion cannot win approval from Saenuri lawmakers," said Kwon, who is considered a major supporter of impeachment.

The ferry sunk on April 16, 2014, killing 304, mostly students on a school trip.

The leaders of Saenuri, which are Park loyalists, said they will not step down from their posts in late December as promised earlier if the non-Park lawmakers join the impeachment move.'

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