Three people have died in connection with protests that erupted following the impeachment of South Korea’s first female president.
The country faces political uncertainty now that President Park Geun-hye has been forced out of office over allegations of corruption and cronyism.
South Korea’s Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach Park, making her the country’s first democratically elected leader to be removed from her post.
Chaos followed the news in the nation’s capital of Seoul where thousands protested after the unanimous decision by eight judges was handed down during a live broadcast.
Park was accused of acquiescing to influence from her longtime friend and adviser, Choi Soon-sil, who is on trial for abuse of power and fraud. The Constitutional Court confirmed allegations that Park had abused her authority by helping Choi raise money from companies for foundations she had set up.
According to CNN, an election for Park’s replacement must be held within 60 days, and the cabinet will be convened for a special session soon.
The court’s decision comes at a pivotal moment for the region, as tensions rise with North Korea over its escalating nuclear weapons testing program. Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn has warned that North Korea might attempt to take advantage of South Korea’s political turmoil.
Soon after the court’s ruling, acting Hwang appealed for unity in a televised address, acknowledging that Park’s case had polarized the nation. South Koreans on opposing sides viewed each other as “enemies,” he said. “Now is the time, however, for acceptance.”
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