Constitutional Court to Announce Impeachment Ruling on Friday

Posted March 10, 2017

South Koreans have staged simultaneous rallies in the capital city Seoul in support and against the country's scandal-hit president a day before the Constitutional Court is to decide her fate.

Anti-Park protesters said their peaceful protests would turn violent and their "candles will turn into torches" if the court allows the president to remain in office to complete her term.

The announcement comes days before the South Korean Constitutional court will announce if it will uphold a motion put forth by parliament to impeach the embattled president.

That would also prompt a special presidential election within 60 days, probably in early May, a contest that might lead to domestic and foreign policy changes after a decade of conservative party rule.

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But if the court reinstates her, it will generate a mass outpouring of anger from a public fed up with the corruption between the political and business elite, a system that is seen as holding ordinary people down.

On 20 November, Ms Choi was charged with various offences, including abuse of authority, coercion, attempted coercion and attempted fraud, leading to the wider investigation. The chief justice retired as scheduled in January, taking the number of judges on the bench down to eight, and the acting chief justice finishes her term on Monday, creating a deadline for their decision.

The motion to impeach President Park was passed on December 9 through the National Assembly by an overwhelming support. She will have to vacate the presidential Blue House and perhaps return to her private residence in the upscale Gangnam district.

Park's lawyers say she was staying in her "residence cum office", receiving situation reports by phone and issuing directives on rescue operations.

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Expected to last about an hour, the verdict hearing on the president's impeachment trial will start at 11 a.m. on Friday and is to be broadcast live to the nation.

Park has denied all wrongdoing.

"We will calmly wait for the court's decision", the official said. If the impeachment is upheld, the next presidential election is likely to take place on May 9.

The main allegation is that she colluded with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to extort South Korean conglomerates to donate $70 million to two dubious foundations in exchange for favorable treatment.

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Park's father, still president, was killed in 1979 by his own spy chief, and she disappeared from public view for nearly two decades.