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Park Geun-hye fired as court upholds impeachment

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S.Korean court to rule on Park's fate

President Park Geun-hye of South Korea has been formally removed from office after the country's constitutional court unanimously upheld the parliament's decision to impeach her after a corruption scandal. Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung Mi said the court accepted the findings of the prosecution's probe that said Ms Park abused her power and leaked official secrets to allow her confidante Choi Soon Sil to meddle in state affairs and make personal gains from it.

If the impeachment is upheld, as many analysts predict, the decision would immediately end what has been Park's controversial four-year tenure leading South Korea - a country of 50 million and Asia's fourth-largest economy.

President Park's relationship with Choi and her father, Choi Tae-min, has always been a source of controversy in South Korea.

Park Geun-hye was accused of colluding with Choi 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.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea is home to several top candidates in recent polls, including frontrunner Moon Jae-in.

Some compared it to the impeached president, who prosecutors say summoned her hair stylist to her office several hours after a ferry sank in 2014, killing hundreds of teenagers.

In addition, the US deployment of a high-tech missile defense system in South Korea has riled up China, which claimed the Pentagon was trying to beef up its spying capabilities. Supporters and protestors gathered outside the courthouse, and there were violent clashes with police.

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For South Koreans, the long wait is nearly over. Conservative voters also continued pro-Park rallies to oppose the impeachment.

South Korea's stocks and currency have remained resilient despite the crisis. And they are overwhelmingly hostile to now ex-President Park Geun-hye. Old Choi became close to Park after the death of her mother at the hands of a North Korean assassin in 1974, when Park's father, the dictator Park Chung-hee, was President.

It also opens her up to criminal proceedings.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn remains in charge of the country, but an election will be held within two months to choose her successor.

Park's office had no comment after the court announcement Wednesday of when it would rule.

Park has a private residence in a neighbourhood called Samseong-dong, in the affluent Gangnam district of the capital, Seoul, and the spokesman said earlier she would be going there, when she leaves the Blue House.

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