S Korean Prosecutors Summon Impeached President
South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday summoned former impeached president Park Geun-hye for questioning over the huge corruption scandal she was accused of.
Park, who had refused to be questioned while in office, now has lost her immunity from prosecution and will "actively" cooperate with the prosecution's investigation, her lawyer said.
Separately, the South Korean government also announced that a snap election to replace Park would be held on May 9. But Hwang Kyo-ah, the prime minister who is now acting president, dashed conservatives' hopes when he said he would not run for election.
"To stabilize state affairs and fairly administer the presidential election, I've reached the judgment that it is inappropriate for me to run in the election," Hwang said during a cabinet meeting Wednesday.
"From now onwards, I would like to focus on the tremendous responsibility as the acting president."
Moon Jae-in, a progressive from the main opposition Democratic Party, has a strong lead in the polls, but Hwang was scoring second even before declaring an interest in running - though still a long way behind Moon.
Hwang became the obvious candidate for conservatives after Ban Ki-moon, the former UN secretary general, pulled out of the running. Conservatives now have no clear contender to challenge Moon.
Park's impeachment on Friday was the first time a president has been dismissed from office since democracy was instituted three decades ago. Her removal will help bring about an end to the political vacuum that South Korea has been in for the past three months, as preparations are now underway to replace her.
But the criminal investigation will continue and could yield more explosive details about corruption at the top levels of government and business.
The Constitutional Court Friday found Park had "continuously" violated the law and the constitution. The court concluded that the former president had helped her friend Choi Soon-sil extract bribes from South Korean conglomerates, leaked her confidential documents, and then lied to cover up her wrongdoing.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team