South Korean President Park Geun-hye is scheduled to face an impeachment vote on Friday over a scandal that could lead to her becoming the country’s first democratically elected leader to be removed from office in disgrace.
The parliamentary vote is scheduled to begin at 06:00 GMT, and if the motion passes with a two-thirds majority, the country’s Constitutional Court will have up to 180 days to determine whether to formally end Park’s presidency.
Prosecutors say Park colluded in the criminal activities of a longtime confidante to manipulate government affairs and extort businesses.
The confidante, Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of a cult leader who mentored Park before his death, has been indicted on a string of charges including abuse of authority and attempted fraud.
The president is also suspected of having put pressure on top Korean companies, including the electronics giant Samsung, to donate to two foundations controlled by Choi and allegedly set up to back Park’s policy initiatives.
Park, who has immunity from prosecution while in office, has repeatedly apologised but has refused to meet prosecutors investigating the scandal.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from the National Assembly in Seoul, said some members of Park’s conservative Saenuri Party would have to break rank for the vote to pass.
“What is required is 28 members of the ruling Saenuri Party vote along with 172 opposition and independent members of the national assembly in order to get the two-thirds majority required,” he said.