Asia South Korean Prime Minister faces impeachment

South Korean Prime Minister faces impeachment

 

Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo
Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo

(AA) — South Korea’s largest opposition party moved Monday to impeach Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo, following up on recent calls for his resignation over a snowballing bribery scandal that has rocked the country’s political establishment.

Lee is accused of accepting nearly $30,000 worth of cash in 2013 from local businessman Sung Wan-jong, who made the claim himself in a newspaper interview before taking his own life earlier this month.

Sung had been the subject of a very public investigation focusing on corruption allegations surrounding the so-called resource diplomacy initiative of the previous Lee Myung-bak administration.

But a list found in the businessman’s possession after his death appeared to implicate current President Park Geun-hye’s prime minister and chief of staff. Both had only taken up their positions earlier this year in the fallout from last year’s Sewol ferry disaster, that claimed 304 lives — mostly high school students on a field trip.

Moon Jae-in, chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, announced the plan to impeach Lee Wan-koo during a party meeting Monday — despite the ruling Saenuri Party’s request to wait for the president’s decision on Lee’s future when she returns from South America next week.

“Citizens cannot wait any more,” Moon said in televised comments. “Our party will seek a dismissal proposal bill to secure a fair investigation.”

Moon pointed out that Lee would be unable to fulfill his usual tasks if he were to become the first sitting South Korean prime minister to be investigated by prosecutors.

It remains to be seen whether the Saenuri camp will agree to a swift vote on the matter.

Either way, it sets up a dramatic political stage for next week’s by-elections to decide four parliamentary seats.

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