South Korean political heavyweights on Tuesday demanded President Park Geun-hye step down or be impeached over a scandal involving Park's longtime confidante.
Moon Jae-in, former chairman of the main opposition Minjoo Party and one of major presidential hopefuls, told reporters that he will initiate a nationwide campaign to let President Park step down, saying the campaign will last until the president declares her unconditional resignation.
Moon said people's frustration, shown in Saturday's mass rally, cannot be cured only by Park's resignation, noting it is high time to replace the current era and overhaul the root of the country.
Over a million South Koreans took to the streets in Seoul alone in the third weekend rally to demand Park step down.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and Mayor Lee Jae-myung of Seongnam city in Gyeonggi province, who are two major presidential hopefuls of the main opposition party, welcomed Moon's proposal and expressed willingness to join the campaign.
Ahn Cheol-soo, former chairman of the minor opposition People's Party, said that President Park's resignation is a way to save the country, urging the scandal-hit president to declare a political resignation before being investigated by prosecutors.
Prosecutors requested a direct probe into President Park no later than Wednesday, but Park's attorney asked its delay citing lack of time and preparations.
Rival parties on Monday agreed to a bill to appoint an independent counsel who will investigate the scandal involving Choi Soon-sil, the president's decades-long friend suspected of meddling in state affairs behind the scenes.
Under the country's constitution, a president has immunity from criminal execution, but investigation is allowed if the indictment is suspended by the end of presidency. A presidential election is required to be carried out within 60 days if a president steps down.
Kim Moon-sung, former chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party and one of presidential hopefuls in the ruling bloc, said that it would be correct to impeach President Park as the hurried presidential election, which would be conducted within 60 days after Park's resignation, may fail to verify presidential candidates.
Kim, one of key non-President Park faction members in the governing party, urged the party leadership to resign, saying the leadership blindly following Park cannot normalize the current situations.