S. Korea's main opposition moves toward Park impeachment

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Seoul: Protesters hold candles and banners calling for the resignation of South Koreas President Park Geun-Hye during an anti-government rally in central Seoul on November 19, 2016. Tens of thousands of protestors rallied in Seoul on November 19, for the fourth in a weekly series of mass protests urging President Park Geun-Hye to resign over a corruption scandal. AFP/Jung Yeon-Je

November 21, 2016
SEOUL (AFP) - The impeachment of South Korea's embattled President Park Guen-Hye in a snowballing corruption case inched closer Monday when the main opposition party said it was examining its options.

The move comes the day after prosecutors named Park a criminal suspect in a major influence-peddling case, tightening the noose on an already hugely unpopular leader.

"We will immediately review the timing and methods of impeachment and set up a subcommittee to review a push for impeachment," said Choo Mi-Ae, head of the opposition liberal Democratic Party.

Two smaller opposition parties have already said they will seek to remove her.

Lawmakers have been under growing public pressure to oust Park, with weekly mass protests drawing hundreds of thousands of protestors across the country.

But with impeachment proceedings likely to drag on for months, the Democratic Party has been reluctant to move because of fears of a backlash from conservative voters.

On Sunday, Seoul prosecutors said Park had colluded with her long-time friend, Choi Soon-Sil, who is accused of coercing more than $60 million from local firms and meddling in state affairs.

Park's single, five-year term ends in February 2018, and observers say she is likely to do all she can to serve out her time because a sitting president cannot be charged with a criminal offence except insurrection or treason.

The three opposition parties hold a combined 55 percent of parliamentary seats -- short of the two thirds majority required to pass an impeachment bill.

But dozens of lawmakers in Park's own party vowed Sunday to support a push for her impeachment, wary of growing public anger about the scandal.