South Korea's ruling party called for dialogue to ease public anger over an influence-peddling and corruption scandal that is rocking the country, while the opposition demanded the immediate resignation of President Park Geun-hye on Sunday, source from the Yonhap.
The contrasting views come as organizers of a nationwide rally claimed some 2.32 million people showed up on Saturday to call for the removal of Park from power.
Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of Park, has been accused of using her ties to peddle influence, meddle in state affairs and receive kickbacks from the country's big businesses. State prosecutors have also charged Park of being an accomplice to her friend's illegal activities. The scandal has triggered a public outpouring of anger directed at Park.
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has categorically refuted all suspicions raised and even accused the prosecution and the press of being politically biased. The president, who has addressed the nation about the scandal three times since late October, is expected to provide her views on the scandal that has paralyzed the country. Park has consistently maintained she is innocent of charges raised.
The ruling Saenuri Party said in a statement that it understands the anger being expressed by the people.
It also said that while the opposition parties are calling for Park's ouster through impeachment, the matter needs to be discussed in a calm and careful manner to permit a smooth and orderly exit.
The opposition bloc submitted a motion calling for Park's impeachment that will be voted on in the National assembly on Friday.
"The coming days are critical for the future of the country, and it is imperative that both the ruling and opposition camps work together on this matter," said party spokesman Yeom Dong-yeol. The lawmaker said that demand based on the opinions of just one side will only cause further confusion and should be avoided.
On the other hand, the main opposition Democratic Party and the minor People's Party said the people have made their views clear through their protest that is not shaken by efforts of Park to cling to power.
Opposition lawmakers said that the non-Park faction within Saenuri must act and vote for impeachment this week.
For the impeachment motion to pass at least 200 lawmakers need to sign off on it. The opposition parties are 28 short of this number, and they need the support of disgruntled Saenuri lawmakers.
Rep. Ki Dong-min, the spokesman for the Democratic Party, said people have already abandoned the president and that if she persists in staying on it will cause 10 million people to hit the streets.
Others in the People's Party said if the Saenuri lawmakers do not act now, regardless of their allegiance to Park, they too will feel the wrath of the public and will have to pay for their poor decisions.
Related to calls demanding Park step down, Cheong Wa Dae reiterated its previous stance that the president will accept whatever decision is reached on her status by the ruling and opposition parties.
It has, however, said Park wants to meet with Saenuri lawmakers to elaborate on her position and the timetable set by the ruling camp for her stepping down from office.
Last week, Saenuri passed a resolution calling for Park to resign before her term in office ends in February 2018. They called for her to step down by the end of April and for the government to hold a new election to pick the country's next leader in June.
There has been speculation that Park wants her leaving office to coincide with a Constitutional revision.