Opposition parties rule out Park's voluntary retreat

Opposition parties said Monday they will focus on securing enough votes to pass their impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye, saying that her voluntary retreat in April as proposed by the ruling party cannot be an option, source from the Yonhap.

Rep. Choo Mi-ae, head of the main opposition Democratic Party, holds a press meeting at Seoul-based National Assembly headquarter on Dec. 5, 2016. (Yonhap)

Park has been facing the biggest crisis in her political career amid the influence-peddling scandal surrounding her close confidante Choi Soon-sil, who exerted influence on state affairs without any official seat in the administration.

While the opposition parties handed in the impeachment motion to the parliament last week for a vote slated for Friday, Park loyalists in the ruling Saenuri Party have been suggesting to have the president step down voluntarily in April and hold a presidential election in June.

Rep. Choo Mi-ae, the head of the main opposition Democratic Party, said it will not discuss Park's voluntary retreat, adding the public only calls for impeachment and the president's immediate resignation.

"On Saturday, 2.3 million protesters joined rallies, refusing to accept Saenuri's plan for a voluntary resignation," Choo said. "We urge Saenuri lawmakers to join the move for impeachment in accordance to the public's voice and conscience."

   During a press meeting, Choo said some of its lawmakers are even insisting that the National Assembly should dissolve itself if it fails to pass the impeachment motion.

Choo rebutted Park loyalists's argument that an impeachment would bring bigger confusion to state affairs, saying a greater cause is at stake with the impeachment.

"The fate of South Korean politics and the country's future lie on the impeachment. It is about choosing between the faction led by conscience and the Constitution, and the unprincipled bloc," Choo added.

A successful passage of the impeachment motion calls for approval from at least 200 lawmakers from the 300-seat National Assembly. The opposition bloc is 28 seats short of getting a two-thirds vote and therefore must persuade the Park dissenters in Saenuri.

Rep. Park Jie-won of the splinter People's Party also echoed the view, adding the parliament should vote on the impeachment even if the president does agree to step down in April as suggested by Saenuri leaders.

"The public's anger, reflected through candlelight rallies, will not allow the president to return to state affairs. Our only option is an impeachment," the floor leader of the People's Party said.

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