South Korean lawmakers on Friday impeached President Park Geun-hye, a stunning and swift fall for the country's first female leader amid protests that drew millions into the streets in united fury.
After the vote, parliamentary officials hand-delivered formal documents to the presidential Blue House that stripped Park of her power and allowed the country's No. 2 official, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, to assume leadership until the Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down. The court has up to six months to decide.
"I'd like to say that I'm deeply sorry to the people because the nation has to experience this turmoil because of my negligence and lack of virtue at a time when our security and economy both face difficulties," Park said after the vote, before a closed-door meeting with her Cabinet where she and other aides reportedly broke down in tears.
Once called the "Queen of Elections" for her ability to pull off wins for her party, Park has been surrounded in the Blue House in recent weeks by millions of South Koreans who have taken to the streets in protest.
They are furious over what prosecutors say was collusion by Park with a longtime friend to extort money from companies and to give that confidante extraordinary sway over government decisions.
Some on Twitter praised South Koreans for their style of peaceful protest.
"Can you hear the roar of the people in front of the National Assembly?" Kim Kwan-young, an opposition lawmaker said ahead of the vote, referring to South Korea's formal name.
The handover of power prompted the prime minister to order South Korea's defense minister to put the military on a state of heightened readiness to brace for any potential provocation by North Korea.
No suspicious movements by the North were reported, however.
…Geun-hye in the south only began in the end, hundreds of thousands, is expanding day by day millions of early sea of fire.…— North Korea English (@uriminzok_engl) December 9, 2016
The official Twitter account of North Korea has tweeted about Park constantly.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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