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(LEAD) Opposition parties seek to put impeachment to vote in early Dec.

2016/11/24 12:34

(ATTN: RECAST headline; ADDS details throughout; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party said Thursday it will seek to put President Park Geun-hye's impeachment motion up for a vote no later than early December, adding it will not pursue the neutral-Cabinet issue for the time being.

"We will seek to vote on the impeachment motion as early as Dec. 2, and no later than Dec. 9," said Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the party's whip.

South Korea's three opposition parties have been seeking to impeach Park amid the influence-peddling scandal of her confidante Choi Soon-sil, who allegedly exerted power on state affairs and enjoyed personal benefits.

Woo said the party will not discuss appointing a new prime minister or the Cabinet for the time being, adding it will instead focus solely on the impeachment issue.

Local parties have been seeking the formation of a neutral Cabinet, with a new prime minister amid the leadership crisis brought on by the scandal.

It will mark the first time in 12 years for the parliament to hand in a motion to impeach a president. In 2004, the National Assembly sought to impeach late former President Roh Moon-hyun, which was later turned down by the Constitutional Court.

Political pundits expect 172 lawmakers to support the proposal of the motion, while the number could increase if Saenuri lawmakers from the non-Park faction join the move.

For the successful passage of the motion, at least 28 Saenuri lawmakers must vote for the impeachment. While 32 lawmakers from Saenuri expressed support, pundits said there could be some lawmakers in the opposition parties that may vote against it.

Once the motion is passed, the result will be reviewed by the Constitutional Court. Experts estimate the process will take some three to four months.

Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of Park Geun-hye (Yonhap) Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of Park Geun-hye (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr

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