South Korean president agrees to cede some power
Iran Press TV
Tue Nov 8, 2016 6:10AM
South Korea's scandal-hit President Park Geun-hye has said she will give the parliament the power to choose a prime minister with a more active role in a bid to ease public anger over her presidency.
Park's remarks came during a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun on Tuesday after her nomination for the position was met with parliamentary opposition.
"If parliament recommends a good person with an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties, I will appoint that person as prime minister and allow him to essentially take control over the cabinet," Park said.
In South Korea, the prime minister is a largely symbolic post with most power concentrated in the presidential office. Park's decision to relinquish some control over domestic affairs is a key demand by opposition parties after a scandal involving an old friend of hers who allegedly meddled in state affairs despite having no formal position.
Allegations were first reported by media that the 60-year-old Choi Soon-sil manipulated her close ties with the president to persuade local business institutions into donating large sums to foundations run by her.
Choi, who was formally detained last week, is also accused of intervening in governmental affairs and having had access to potentially confidential government data despite lacking any official position or a security clearance.
Public outrage over the scandal brought tens of thousands of South Koreans to the streets in the capital on Saturday to demand the resignation of Park.
The rallies came only a day after she issued a tearful televised apology over the influence-peddling affair, which has shattered public trust in her leadership.
According to a Gallup Korea survey, the political scandal has sent Park's approval rating nose-diving to an all-time low of just five percent, the lowest ever recorded for any South Korean president.
In an attempt to contain public outrage, Park decided to reshapes the cabinet and nominated a liberal candidate from outside her conservative Saenuri Party. The opposition lawmakers, however, said they will reject the nomination because they were not properly consulted.
Earlier on Tuesday, South Korean prosecutors raided the Seoul office of Samsung Electronics as part of an investigation over the scandal. South Korea's Yonhap news agency said prosecutors were following a suspicion that the company gave Choi's daughter illicit financial assistance.
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