An impeachment vote against South Korea’s President Park Geun-Hye will be postponed by at least a week, lawmakers announced on Wednesday, a day after she asked parliament to find a way for her to give up power.
The South Korean parliament was set to vote on Friday on whether she should be impeached. About 30 members of Park’s Saenuri Party had initially backed the three opposition parties in their plan to remove her from office. But, after Park expressed her willingness to stand down early, they decided to discuss the issue in the national assembly before holding a vote.
Park came under pressure to resign after her close friend Choi Soon-sil was found to have allegedly meddled in state affairs and forced companies to donate funds to non-profit foundations.
On Tuesday, Park said that she will step down once the South Korean parliament forms a way to pass on the administration in a stable manner that will minimise any power vacuum and chaos in governance.
"I will leave to parliament everything about my future including shortening of my term," she said in a brief televised speech.
Opposition parties rejected her offer which they described as a tactic to escape being impeached and insisted that impeachment is the only way.
Park is likely to be impeached but the the opposition requires a two-thirds majority in the national assembly to pass a motion. There are 172 opposition and independent lawmakers who want her removed. They need 28 votes from the Saenuri party.
Up to 1.5 million South Koreans have protested in large numbers for five straight weekends to demand Park’s resignation.
Activists called for a sixth weekly protest on Saturday in central Seoul, despite Park's willingness to cede power.
"This weekend protest is crucial in deciding the future direction of the political course of this country", Professor Lee Yeon-Ho of Yonsei University said on Wednesday.
"The ongoing political game over Park's departure will be seriously affected by the size and intensity of this protest.”
Park’s term in office is scheduled to end in February 2018. If she is impeached or steps down, an election would be held in 60 days to nominate a president to serve a five-year term.