South Korea court rules to oust President Park

Constitutional Court rules to formally end impeached President Park Geun-hye's rule.
Supporters and opponents of the president have rallied for months in Seoul [Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]
 A South Korean court has ruled to formally end impeached President Park Geun-hye's rule.

Eight judges from the Constitutional Court assembled on Friday to issue a verdict to remove Park from office over a corruption scandal.

It marks the first time a South Korean president has been driven from office before the end of their term since democracy replaced dictatorship in the late 1980s.

In anticipation of the ruling, Park supporters, many of them dressed in army-style fatigues and wearing red berets, and those who want Park gone began showing up around the Constitutional Court building in downtown Seoul.

A big television screen was set up near the court so that people could watch the verdict live. Hundreds of police also began preparing for the protests, putting on helmets with visors and black, hard-plastic breastplates and shin guards.

South Korea's opposition-controlled parliament voted to impeach Park in December.

South Korean law now requires a snap election to be held within 60 days.

The scandal has preoccupied the country for months, with weekly rallies.

Park, 65, has been accused of colluding with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, and a former presidential aide, both of whom have been on trial, to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

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.

Park has denied any wrongdoing, but apologised for putting trust in her friend.

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