Park Geun-hye removed from office, election likely in early May
Mar 12, 2017, 00:08
In the photos below, a protestor celebrates following the court's decision with champagne and demonstrators wear illuminated costumes at an anti-Park rally.
Judges unanimously upheld parliament's decision to impeach Ms Park over her role in a corruption scandal involving her close friend, Choi Soon-sil.
Prime Minister Hwang, a Park loyalist, became acting president when parliament voted to impeach her on 9 December.
The anti-Park protesters shouted "The candles have won!" and "Arrest Park Geun-hye!" as they began marching towards the presidential Blue House, where Ms Park continued to stay a day after her removal.
The ruling sparked protests from hundreds of her supporters, two of whom were killed in clashes with police outside the court. Police say protesters also smashed the windows of several buses. He later died from his wounds in hospital. "We lost our Korea", one protestor told CNN's Paula Hancocks live on air. The decision meant Park became the first democratically elected leader of South Korea to be stripped of office. Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Ms Park in the 2012 election, now enjoys a comfortable lead in opinion polls.
The 65-year-old, whose term as the 11th president of South Korea had been due to end in February 2018, was impeached by the local parliament on December 9 on multiple corruption charges, including allowing a close friend, Choi Soon-sil, to meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort money from big businesses such as Samsung.
She is obliged to leave the presidential Blue House and loses her executive immunity from prosecution.
Ms Choi is accused of using her presidential connections to pressure companies to give millions of dollars in donations to non-profit foundations she controlled.
Park Geun-hye was the first female president of the nation, and she was the daughter of Cold War military dictator Park Chung-hee.
Park was brought down by a corruption scandal that has dominated South Korean politics for months, and has entangled the acting head of Samsung.
The court's Friday ruling permanently removed Park from office.
"As there are many South Korean holidays on the first week of May, the chances are high that the election will be held on May 9, 60 days after impeachment".
What happens to South Korea?
She is also accused of soliciting bribes from the head of the Samsung Group for government favours including the backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015 that was seen to support the succession of control over the country's largest "chaebol" conglomerate.
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