Will President Park Attempt Vulcan Mind Meld after Last Week's Jedi Mind Trick?
SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) -- Speculation is growing that President Park Geun-hye may deliver yet another address to the nation over a corruption scandal involving her and her longtime friend, in a last-ditch effort to foil an impeachment vote slated for later this week.
Observers said that the embattled president may specify the exact time for her resignation during a speech that could be made on Tuesday or Wednesday -- at least a few days before an impeachment motion is put to a vote on Friday.
Last week, Park already expressed her intention to step aside. But she called on parliament to decide when and how she would leave office, stoking doubts over whether she is sincere about her avowed departure.
"My guess is that if Park declares she would resign by the end of April next year, the impeachment push could lose some steam," an official from the ruling bloc told Yonhap News Agency over the phone, declining to be named.
"My expectation is that (the president) will deliver another address by the day after tomorrow (Wednesday), as she has no other choice," he added.
An impeachment push by opposition parties gained traction after an estimated 2.32 million citizens took to the streets across the country last Saturday to call for Park's immediate resignation.
Adding to the move are some ruling party members who are not loyal to the president, or "non-mainstreamers." They vowed to join the impeachment vote should their Saenrui Party fail to negotiate a compromise this week with the opposition parties over the terms of Park's departure.
Opposition parties, however, remain opposed to any negotiations with the ruling party.
Following a meeting of senior party officials, Lee Jung-hyun, leader of the Saenuri Party, said that the president would honor the party's official line to have her resign by the end of April next year and hold a presidential election two months later.
But the party line has started to crumble as the non-mainstreamers are poised to join the forthcoming impeachment vote.
Meanwhile, Han Gwang-ok, presidential chief of staff, hinted that Park may clarify her stance soon over her departure.
"(I think) it is the time for the president to answer (the question about when she will resign) in response to the public calls," he said during a parliamentary probe into the scandal. "My understanding is that (the president) will soon make a decision."
But another official at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae pointed out that "nothing has been decided yet."
"It is for the president to decide," he added on condition of anonymity.
Reflecting the difficulty in finding a way out of the current political crisis, Cheong Wa Dae abruptly canceled a regular press briefing in the morning.
Some observers cautioned that if Park fails to clearly declare her plan to bow out during an address, it could further inflame opposition parties as well as disgruntled citizens that have staged massive rallies for the last six consecutive weekends.