South Korea PM to be briefed on state affairs as Park impeached

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 12, 2016 12:01 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) - Having taken over the reins of state, South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will begin receiving official briefings from aides of disgraced President Park Geun-hye on Monday, following her impeachment by parliament at the end of last week.

Hwang has sought to calm anxiety over national security and to reassure financial markets, while Park's presidency is held in limbo pending the outcome of a Constitutional Court review of her impeachment, which may take up to 180 days.

Until then, Park will remain in the presidential Blue House a few blocks north of the main government complex where Hwang's office is located.

Park's term was set to end in February 2018. But, if the court upholds her impeachment, she will become the first elected South Korean leader to be ejected from office in disgrace.

Thereafter, a new election should be held within 60 days to pick a successor who will serve a full five-year term.

On Monday and Tuesday, Hwang will receive briefings from senior presidential secretaries on foreign policy, judicial, personnel and economic affairs, the Blue House said, giving no further details.

Hwang has chaired a National Security Council meeting, met with the cabinet twice and visited the military headquarters since assuming presidential powers late on Friday.

On Sunday, state prosecutors charged two more former senior officials as part of their probe of a corruption scandal that has led to Park's impeachment and the indictment of former aides and a friend, Choi Soon-sil.

The scandal erupted in October and has drawn large street protests in Seoul for the past seven Saturdays, with the crowds calling for Park to step down immediately.

On Monday, South Korean shares opened at their highest level since Oct. 25 as investors felt some uncertainty in the market was erased after the impeachment vote, but the modest gains were quickly erased due to prospects of a U.S. interest rate hike later this week.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)