To impeach or not?

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To impeach or not?

President Park Geun-hye said she would let the National Assembly determine her political fate. In Tuesday’s third apology to the nation, she expressed a willingness to step down from the presidency if the legislature finds a way to minimize the political chaos in accordance with the law. The announcement came after senior lawmakers loyal to the president called for an “honorable retreat” and first-term lawmakers demanded a “voluntary retreat.” With an impeachment vote scheduled for as early as Friday, the clock was ticking.

Park’s announcement of her early resignation, albeit with strings attached, could be meaningful as it could help minimize political chaos. Under the impeachment scenario, the president would be suspended from her job for 180 days at maximum until the Constitutional Court delivers a final ruling after the Assembly passes an impeachment motion. During the period, government functions will mostly be paralyzed. That’s why people came up with the idea of letting the president step down.

It is Park who stoked public outrage. Despite her legal, moral and political accountability for the unprecedented abuse of power scandal involving the president and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, she does not accept that she violated the law. The president even refused to accept the prosecution’s demand to be questioned, backpedaling on her promise to comply with the investigation.

Park caused the political chaos and has deepened it with her stubbornness. She must now minimize the power vacuum. What she has to do is simple: step down after presenting her own resignation schedule. That is not a question of letting the legislature determine her political future, because the Assembly is already preparing her impeachment.

In yesterday’s address to the nation, the president said that she wants the country to get back to normal. If that’s true, she must cooperate whether it be an orderly retreat or impeachment. The president’s determination to hold onto power deepens public resentment. After the massive candlelight vigil last weekend, her approval rating plunged to a record low of 4 percent.

The president expressed a willingness to step down with strings attached once the legislature prepared her impeachment. Both the ruling and opposition parties can, of course, discuss ways to determine her political fate before the impeachment. But if they fail to iron out their differences, there is no other solution than impeachment.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 30, Page 30
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