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December 17, 2016

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Large crowds were expected to gather in South Korea’s capital again on Saturday to call for impeached President Park Geun-hye to immediately quit and press the Constitutional Court to formally remove her from office.

The massive protests against Park in recent weeks have been peaceful, but there was concern on Saturday about the demonstrators clashing with thousands of Park’s supporters who planned their own protest near the court.

South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament last week voted to impeach Park over an explosive corruption scandal that saw millions protest over consecutive weekends. Prosecutors accuse Park of colluding with a longtime confidante to extort money and favors from companies and allowing her friend to manipulate state affairs.

The impeachment suspended Park’s powers until the court rules whether she should permanently step down or be reinstated. The court has up to six months to decide, and if Park is formally removed from office, the country will hold a presidential election within 60 days.

Park has apologized for putting trust into her jailed friend, Choi Soon-sil, whose criminal trial begins on Monday, but has denied any legal wrongdoing. On Friday, lawmakers attempted to inspect records at the president’s office but were denied entry. The lawmakers had planned to look into allegations that Blue House security officials allowed Choi and her key associates to easily move in and out of the presidential offices and residence.

Park’s lawyer, Lee Joong-hwan, said the court should restore Park’s powers because there is insufficient evidence to justify her unseating. He and other members of Park’s legal team submitted a statement to the court explaining why the case should be decided in the president’s favor.

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