South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye on Tuesday asked the country’s parliament to find a way for her to cede power and decide when she should step down.
Her comments come amid growing calls for her to resign following an investigation into whether she allowed a long-time friend to influence political decisions for personal gain.
The president’s friend Choi Soon-sil is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies. She is also suspected of using her friendship with the president to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.
In a media encounter,, the embattled president said: “I will leave to parliament everything about my future including shortening of my term.”
“I will step down from my position according to the law once a way is formed to pass on the administration in a stable manner that will also minimize political unrest and vacuum after ruling and opposition parties’ discussion,” she added.
But the opposition has described the president’s comments as a way of trying to avoid impeachment.
Parliament is due to discuss on Friday whether the president should stand down ‘honourably’ before it reached that point, the BBC reports.
President Park has apologized twice already for the influence-peddling scandal and said she is ‘heartbroken’ by the political crisis around, but until now had refused to step down.
Analysts say should parliament pass a motion for President Park’s impeachment on Friday, she would face immediate suspension from presidential duties and the prime minister would take over as temporary head of government.
Her approval rating fell to as low as 4 percent last Friday as hundreds of thousands of Koreans joined huge street protests across the country demanding that she leaves office.
Japan has meanwhile said its bilateral diplomatic schedules and agreements with South Korea will not be affected by President Park’s decision to resign.
Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami said on Tuesday that the Japan-China-South Korea summit, which Japan was preparing to host in December would come off as scheduled.
“It’s important for both Japanese and South Korean government to faithfully implement what has been agreed upon last year,” Nogami is quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.