List of world leaders ousted for legal reasons

President Park Geun-hye
PHOTO: Reuters

South Korean President Park Geun Hye is one of a long list of world leaders to have gone through an impeachment process or forced to resign following legal proceedings against them.

Not all impeachment proceedings are successful: The best known survivor is probably former US president Bill Clinton, who remained in office despite an attempt to remove him owing to a sex scandal in 1999.

- VENEZUELA: Then-president Carlos Andres Perez, accused of embezzlement and illegal enrichment, was suspended in May 1993 and his dismissal was confirmed by the Congress on Aug 31, 1993.

President Nicolas Maduro is now battling opposition demands for a referendum on whether he should remain in office.

Tens of thousands of South Koreans stage protest in Seoul calling for President Park Geun Hye to resign

  • Tens of thousands of unionized workers staged a general strike and students boycotted classes Wednesday, upping pressure on President Park Geun-hye to resign.
  • Demanding the president's immediate resignation, civic groups, the workers and students vowed to hold a large-scale rally Saturday.
  • An association of 500 civic groups declared Wednesday as "a day of citizens' resistance," staging rallies in front of City Hall in central Seoul and in major cities from 3 p.m. More universities also joined a boycott of classes to ramp up pressure on Park.
  • "Ignoring people's calls for an immediate resignation, Park shifted responsibility (for her resignation) to the parliament," Choi Jong-jin, acting chief of the nation's second-largest umbrella labour union KCTU, said during the rally in central Seoul.
  • Some 220,000 workers from the public transport, public service, construction and education industries under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions joined the partial strike by taking a day off or leaving work early.
  • Students from 17 universities, including Sookmyung Women's University, Sogang University and Korea University, began to boycott their classes Friday. A few more schools including Seoul National University and Kookmin University joined the boycott Wednesday. Incheon University, Inha University and Pusan National University will join the move from Thursday.
  • Starting at 4 p.m., some 20,000 laborers marched across central Seoul and stopped at the headquarters of major conglomerates including Samsung, SK, Lotte, GS and Hanhwa, which are suspected of contributing money to the K-Sports and Mir foundations set up and run by Park's close confidante Choi Soon-sil.
  • The rally organizers initially planned to march to a fountain only 100 meters away from the presidential office, but the police blocked their plan, citing traffic disruption.
  • The sixth anti-Park rally will be held Saturday at Gwanghwamun Square. As with last Saturday's rally, organizers said some 100,000 participants will completely surround the presidential office from several locations starting from 4 pm.
  • Tens of thousands of South Koreans protested in central Seoul on Saturday (Nov 5) in one the largest demonstrations in the country's capital for years, calling on embattled President Park Geun Hye to resign over a growing influence-peddling scandal.
  • Roughly 43,000 people were at the candle-lit rally early on Saturday (Nov 5) evening, according to police. Organisers said a growing crowd of 100,000 had assembled, making the protest one of the biggest since demonstrations in 2008 against US beef imports.
  • Park Geun Hye has been rocked by a scandal involving an old friend who is alleged to have used her closeness to the president to meddle in state affairs. Ms Park has pledged to cooperate with prosecutors in an investigation.
  • Koreans have been angered by the revelations and say Ms Park, the latest South Korean leader to be embroiled in a scandal involving family or friends, has betrayed public trust and mismanaged her government.
  • Her approval rating has slipped to just 5 per cent according to a Gallup poll released on Friday (Nov 4), the lowest number for a South Korean president since such polling began in 1988.
  • Police said they had deployed 17,600 officers and 220 units including buses and mobile barriers to Saturday's protest. Police in riot gear lined the alleys and streets leading to the presidential Blue House as the main body of the demonstration began the march through central Seoul.
  • Ms Park has sacked many of her immediate advisers over the crisis. A former aide, Jeong Ho Seong, was arrested on Thursday (Nov 3) on suspicion of leaking classified information, a prosecution official told Reuters.
  • No South Korean president has ever failed to finish their five-year term, but Ms Park has faced growing pressure from the public and political opponents to quit.
  • "Even though we're just students, we feel like we can't put up with this unreasonable society anymore so we're participating in this protest with like-minded friends," said Mr Byun Woo Hyuk, an 18-year-old high school student holding a banner calling on the president to resign.

- ECUADOR: Abdala Bucaram, accused of siphoning off public funds, was dismissed on Feb 6, 1997 for "physical and mental incapacity", six months after his inauguration as president.

In April 2005, Lucio Gutierrez was accused of packing the supreme court with associates in the midst of a popular uprising and also dismissed from the presidency.

- PERU: Alberto Fujimori on Nov 21, 2000 resigned from the presidency by fax from Tokyo, claiming Japanese nationality through his parents.

Congress refused to accept the resignation and instead voted to sack Fujimori and ban him from public office for 10 years. Extradited, he was jailed for 25 years for having ordered massacres of civilians and for corruption.

Read also: S Korea's Constitutional Court upholds President Park's impeachment

- INDONESIA: Abdurrahman Wahid, accused of incompetence and corruption, was dismissed from the presidency on July 23, 2001.

- LITHUANIA: On April 6, 2004, president Rolandas Paksas was ousted by impeachment after being charged with granting Lithuanian citizenship to a Russian businessman in exchange for a payout. He was banned from standing for office in Lithuania, but was elected to the European Parliament in 2009.

- PARAGUAY: Fernando Lugo was forced from the presidency on June 22, 2012 for dereliction of duty following his handling of a land dispute that left 17 people dead.

- BRAZIL: Dilma Rousseff was ousted after the Senate voted on Aug 31, 2016 to impeach her for illegally manipulating the national budget.

- UNITED STATES: President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 to avoid almost certain impeachment over the Watergate scandal.

- BRAZIL: Fernando Collor de Mello, accused of corruption, resigned from the presidency on Dec 29, 1992 at the beginning of his impeachment hearing before the Senate.

- ISRAEL: Following a tax fraud and corruption scandal, president Ezer Weizman resigned in July 2000, preferring to throw in the towel rather than face possible impeachment proceedings.

In June 2007, president Moshe Katsav resigned as part of a plea bargain after being accused of rape and other sexual offences. In 2011, he was handed a seven-year prison term, before being freed in December 2016.

- GERMANY: Christian Wulff resigned from the federal presidency in February 2012 after being stripped of his immunity following an accusation of influence peddling. He was later cleared.

- GUATEMALA: Otto Perez, accused of being part of a ring of officials who took bribes to allow companies to import goods without paying import taxes, was stripped of his presidential immunity by parliament on Sept 1, 2015.

Facing impeachment, he stood down two days later, before being remanded in custody.

Other heads of state have been subject to impeachment procedures which did not succeed. They include Russia's Boris Yeltsin in 1999, Luis Gonzalez Macchi in Paraguay in 2003, Roh Moo Hyun in South Korea in 2004 and Hery Rajaonarimampianina in Madagascar in 2015.

On two occasions, the US House of Representatives launched impeachment proceedings against the president, the first against Andrew Johnson in 1868 and then against Clinton in 1999. Both were later cleared by the Senate.

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