South Korea’s ruling party on Thursday urged scandal-hit President Park Geun-Hye to step down in April next year, giving her a week to accept their ultimatum or risk impeachment.
Park this week said she would be willing to step down early after coming under huge pressure to quit over an influence peddling scandal that has drawn more than a million people onto the streets in protest.
The ruling Saenuri Party’s 128 lawmakers unanimously agreed to demand Park resign in late April and called for a presidential election to be held in June, six months earlier than scheduled.
“All the lawmakers of the party unanimously approved this timetable”, parliamentary floor leader Chung Jin-Suk was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency after a crucial party meeting.
The party considered the timetable the most appropriate to ensure a peaceful transfer of power, maintain stability and give political parties time to prepare for the presidential election, Chung said.
Park said Tuesday she would let parliament decide her fate following accusations that she colluded with Choi Soon-Sil — a secretive confidante dubbed “Korea’s Rasputin” — to coerce firms to “donate” tens of millions of dollars to foundations which were used for Choi’s personal gain.
Park has been named as a suspect in the investigation, making her the first sitting president to be subject to a criminal probe while in office.
And although Park’s announcement reduced the momentum of calls for her impeachment, the main opposition Democratic Party insisted that Park should be stripped of office by the end of January.
“All South Koreans want Park to leave as soon as possible… they don’t want her to stick around so long,” its leader Choo Mi-Ae said.