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December, 9, 2016

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Park buys time, but maybe not much

SEOUL -- She pulled off a deft bit of political maneuvering, probably born of desperation. Now South Korea's president has a sliver of breathing space as impeachment closes in and millions throng the streets to clamor for her to just go away.

For Park Geun-hye, the next few days, perhaps the most crucial in her presidency, will determine what political price she will pay, and exactly how much time she has bought.

Lawmakers want to impeach Park over prosecutors' allegations she allowed a confidante to pull government strings and pursue extortion schemes.

Her offer to shorten her term in office if a bickering parliament can set up a legal pathway to do so has been widely criticized as a stalling ploy aimed at luring back members of her conservative party who supported impeachment. Opposition parties will need the support of some former Park loyalists to secure the necessary impeachment votes.

Park's conditional resignation proposal, if it delays impeachment, could give her time to search for a way to exit with some sense of grace, rather than be impeached and stripped of power while a court reviews whether to drive her from office.

Delay Impeachment

To some extent, she has already succeeded in wriggling some of the way out from what had very recently looked like an impossible political situation.

What had seemed to be an inexorable legislative march toward impeachment has slowed, though it's not yet clear how much.

Some of Park's former allies who'd turned against her now say that an impeachment vote originally planned for Friday should be pushed back a week. Some influential members of her ruling party also called Wednesday for impeachment efforts to pause while lawmakers examine how to set up a legal roadmap for Park's resignation proposal.

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