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Friday, December 9, 2016, 17:29

Impeached Park calmly accept parliamentary decision

By Agencies

Impeached Park calmly accept parliamentary decision
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye bows during an address to the nation, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Nov 29, 2016. ( AFP / Jeon Heon-Kyun)

SEOUL, South Korea  — Impeached President Park Geun-hye of South Korea said in televised speech on Friday that she will calmly accept the parliamentary decision to remove her from office.

The bill on Park's impeachment was passed by a vote of 234 for and 56 opposed

South Korean lawmakers on Friday impeached Park, a stunning and swift fall for the country's first female leader amid protests that drew millions into the streets in united fury.

Once formal documents are handed over to the presidential Blue House later Friday, Park will be stripped of her power and her No. 2, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, will assume leadership until the country's Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down.

Park Geun-hye on Friday said she hoped confusion surrounding South Korea's political crisis would soon be resolved after parliament voted to impeach her, adding that she would prepare for a court review of the impeachment motion.

Relatives of the victims of a 2014 ferry disaster that killed more than 300 cheered and clapped after the impeachment was announced

Park apologised to the people at a meeting with her ministers and asked them to work with the prime minister to avoid any vacuum in national security matters and the economy.

"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.

The hand-over of power prompted the prime minister to order South Korea's defense minister to put the military on a state of heightened readiness to brace for any potential provocation by North Korea; no suspicious movements by the North were reported, however.

The Constitutional Court has up to 180 days to decide on Park's fate. She will be formally removed from office if six of the court's nine justices support her impeachment, and the country would then hold a presidential election within 60 days.

National Assembly speaker Chung Sye-kyun said the bill on Park's impeachment was passed by a vote of 234 for and 56 opposed, with seven invalid votes and two abstentions. That well surpassed the necessary two-thirds vote needed in the 300-seat assembly, with the opposition getting strong support from members of Park's party.

Present for the vote were relatives of the victims of a 2014 ferry disaster that killed more than 300 and was blamed in part on government incompetence and corruption; they cheered and clapped after the impeachment was announced. Most lawmakers left the hall quietly, though some could be seen taking selfies as they waited to vote.

Lawmakers from both parties faced huge pressure to act against Park, the daughter of a military dictator still revered by many conservatives for lifting the country from poverty in the 1960s and 1970s.

Impeached Park calmly accept parliamentary decision
Relatives of sunken ferry Sewol react as assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun announces the result of the impeachment vote on South Korean President Park Geun-hye during a plenary session at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, on Dec 9, 2016. (AFP / Kim Hong-Ji )

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