A path to impeachment

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A path to impeachment

President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment is fast approaching as the opposition pushes forward a bill next week to force her out of office.

The number of lawmakers in favor of impeachment is rapidly increasing after former leader of the ruling Saenuri Party Kim Moo-sung declared he will take the lead in impeaching the president.

The impeachment of an incumbent president is something a legislature does as a last resort. But the problem is that Park, now a criminal suspect, refuses to accept the prosecution’s request for an in-person questioning about the unprecedented abuse of power scandal involving the president and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

In a tearful apology to the people on Nov. 4, Park pledged to comply with the prosecution’s investigation. Yet, she is running the government — actively — while backpedaling on another promise to retreat from government. The Blue House even called for a trial at the Constitutional Court to determine her fate in accordance with the law.

Park is facing charges of having conspired with Choi to force big companies to donate money to establish the Mi-R and K-Sports foundations and leaking sensitive government secrets to her friend. In a democracy, the president cannot deny the massive candlelight vigils being held on a weekly basis against her administration. A JoongAng Ilbo poll shows that 90 percent of the people want her to step down or be impeached. Only 2.2 percent replied that her remaining term should be ensured.

The impeachment procedure must be wrapped up as quickly as possible. Once the National Assembly passes a motion, the Constitutional Court has a maximum of 180 days to reach a final decision. If the court’s ruling is protracted, the government will be more paralyzed than ever, not to mention the political and social conflict that has been unleashed and the serious security and economic problems we face. The only choice left is impeachment and it should be as fast as possible.

Political circles must find ways to minimize an inevitable power vacuum. The opposition in particular should be accountable for the political mess it helped to create because it rejected a proposed power sharing arrangement. If the impeachment bill is passed, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn is supposed to play the role of acting president. Some lawmakers in the opposition camp believe they have nothing to lose if the political chaos continues. If they encourage a chaotic situation, they will also face a public backlash. All parties should cooperate for Park’s orderly impeachment.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 25, Page 34

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