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Ruling party attempts to suggest ‘orderly exit’ plan to Park

Feb. 22, 2017 - 18:22 By Jo He-rim
With President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment trial drawing to a close, some ruling party politicians are trying to reignite talk on “a political solution,” by which they mean the president’s voluntary departure on condition of her being spared from a criminal investigation.

President Park, although named an accomplice to multiple crimes allegedly committed by her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil and aides, has not been indicted due to the presidential privilege of criminal immunity.

But once she leaves the office -- by the Constitutional Court’s finalization of her parliamentary impeachment or voluntary resignation -- she becomes an ordinary person, subject to investigation, indictment, criminal trial and punishment.

Floor Leader Chung Woo-taik of the ruling conservative Liberty Korea Party (Yonhap)

Mindful of this, Floor Leader Chung Woo-taik of the ruling conservative Liberty Korea Party, formerly Saenuri, on Wednesday called on fellow lawmakers to come up with measures to deal with the “national schism,” which is unlikely to end even with the court’s decision on Park’s fate.

Asked by reporters Wednesday whether he shared the idea with Cheong Wa Dae, Rep. Chung neither admitted or denied it, saying, “Let’s leave this.”

The top court is widely expected to decide by March 13 whether Park deserves to be removed from her position.

Before the parliamentary impeachment of Park on Dec. 9 last year, the conservative party had pushed for an “orderly exit” of the president, suggesting April as the ideal time for her departure and June for the next presidential election.

The lawmaker maintains that a judiciary decision is more likely to further divide society and said the party would consider proposing the plan again.

Floor Leader Joo Ho-young of the People’s Party also hinted that a voluntary resignation of the president before the court’s decision could be a way to stabilize the nation, which is witnessing rival rallies every weekend for and against the scandal-ridden conservative leader.

“The judiciary solution is very likely to bring a political war, which is why we should work to find a better solution that would unite the people,” Rep. Joo said after the party meeting.

Other opposition parties are firmly against any deal with Park, stressing that she deserves dismissal and nothing less.

Moon Jae-in, a leading presidential candidate from the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, flatly rejected the idea, calling it a veiled attempt to shift the blame for the current political crisis to the opposition.

Rep. Park Jie-won, chief of the runner-up liberal People’s Party also said Wednesday it is already too late for the president to step down from office voluntarily.

The floor leaders of the Liberty Korea Party and three opposition parties -- the Democratic Party, People’s Party and Bareun Party -- previously agreed to accept whatever decision the court makes.

By Jo He-rim (