South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaks during an address to the nation, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, 29 November 2016. Photo: Reuters/Jeon Heon-kyun

South Korea’s Constitutional Court upheld the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on Friday, removing her from office over a graft scandal involving big business that has gripped the country for months.

Park becomes South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office and the unanimous decision brings months of political turmoil to a climax, triggering a new presidential election to be held within 60 days.

Park’s actions had “seriously impaired the spirit of… democracy and the rule of law,” said constitutional court chief justice Lee Jung-Mi. “President Park Geun-Hye… has been dismissed.”

Rival groups of supporters and opponents watched as the verdict was read out live on television — a process that took little more than 20 minutes.

Anti-government activists celebrate after the Constitutional Court upheld the impeachment of South Korea’s President Park Geun-Hye in Seoul on March 10, 2017. AFP Photo/ Jung Yeon-Je.

It also means Park, the country’s first female president, is obliged to leave the presidential Blue House and loses her executive immunity from prosecution.

Park was found to have broken the law by allowing her friend Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs, and breached rules on public servants’ activities.

Choi Soon-sil, the jailed confidante of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, center, arrives for questioning at the office of the independent counsel in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, December. 24, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Ahn Young-joon

“The president has to use her power based on the constitution and the laws and have the details of her work shown transparently so that people can evaluate her works,” said Lee.

“But Park concealed completely Choi’s meddling in state affairs and denied it whenever suspicions over the act emerged and even criticised those who raised the suspicions.”

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