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(2nd LD) Parties won't vote on impeachment Friday

All Headlines 11:24 December 01, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, throughout with updates)

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- The minor opposition People's Party said Thursday it will not seek an impeachment vote against President Park Geun-hye this week, putting it off until next week to have more time to close ranks among advocates of her ouster in both ruling and opposition parties.

Opposition parties had planned to vote on the impeachment as early as Friday. But ruling party supporters of the impeachment backed down after she offered to shorten her presidency if rival parties agree on the timeline and procedure for her departure.

Park has been accused of colluding with her confidante Choi Soon-sil in a massive influence-peddling scandal.

A group of ruling Saenuri Party dissenters claimed the president should resign by the end of April and are discussing the issue with the opposition bloc.

"Our goal is to impeach Park, rather than the motion itself, although the main opposition Democratic Party plans to propose it today," said Rep. Lee Yong-ho, the spokesman of the People's Party. "As the non-Park members of Saenuri wish to continue discussions until next Wednesday, it is unlikely that the motion will be passed (on Friday)."

The Saenuri group also said it still has secured a sufficient number of lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party to pass the impeachment motion, which requires approval by at least 200 lawmakers from the 300-seat National Assembly.

The lawmakers prefer Park stepping down voluntarily for the time being, urging the president to come up with detailed plans for her retreat.

Earlier this week, Park said she would leave her fate as president in the hands of parliament, while not providing details on her future path.

"We think Park should step down no later than April 30. We sincerely urge the president to express her stance promptly," Rep. Hwang Young-cheul, the spokesman of the Saenuri group, said.

Rep. Kim Moo-sung, former head of Saenuri, said Thursday he asked Rep. Choo Mi-ae, the head of the main opposition Democratic Party, to end the push for the impeachment if Park decides to leave by the end of April.

Choo, however, claimed Park should resign by January. Kim said dissenters in Saenuri may join the impeachment vote next week if Park fails to make clear she will stand down by end-April.

President Park Geun-hye (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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