The South Korean parliament has voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye after 234 lawmakers voted against the embattled leader. The 300-strong National Assembly convened on Friday (9 December) to vote on impeachment proceedings against Park for her alleged involvement in an influence-peddling scandal.
In the vote, two-thirds of the members voted against the president, following which she will be suspended and will hand over her day-to-day duties to Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn. While 56 lawmakers voted against the impeachment, two abstained from voting. Out of 299 parliamentarians present in the house, seven votes were deemed invalid.
Balloting and counting were kept secret, and the Constitutional Court will now decide whether to uphold the parliamentarians' decision or not. This process could take about six months time.
Voting began at about 3pm local time in Seoul as opposition lawmakers were involved in intense lobbying in last-ditch efforts. Park's impeachment was expected to go against her as massive protests were held after it emerged that confidante Choi Soon-sil, had access to confidential government documents.
If the Constitutional Court ratifies the parliament's outcome then the presidential elections, originally scheduled to take place in December 2017, will be brought forward. The snap polls would be held within two months of the president's removal – if the court decides against her remaining in office.
The proceedings were set in motion by three of South Korea's opposition parties who claimed that Park's actions were in violation of the constitution. She denied any the allegations and refused to relinquish power, but sought the constitution to take its own course.
Park was embroiled in the political scandal following accusations of Choe using Park to gain influence despite not holding any official government position.