The move comes after President Park Geun-hye was impeached
The Saenuri Party had a majority in Parliament before the announcement
South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been abandoned by nearly a quarter of the lawmakers in her party.
The blow comes days after Park was impeached for sharing official state documents with Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of the President who has been described as a Rasputin-like figure.
Twenty-nine lawmakers said Tuesday that they planned to quit Park’s ruling Saenuri Party, which held 128 of the 300 seats in Parliament before the announcement.
“Those who remain loyal to President Park within Saenuri Party have forgotten about the true value of being conservative and, in result, lost the faith of the people,” said Member of Parliament Choung Byoung-gug at a news conference announcing the new party.
Choi had her first court appearance on December 19. She’s been charged with abuse of power, coercion, attempted coercion and fraud.
Choi goes to court
Her lawyers have denied the charges.
Choi is the daughter Choi Tae-min, a controversial figure who led a religious movement that started in the 1970s, anointing himself a modern day Buddha.
The elder Choi first became close with Park following the death of her mother at the hands of a North Korean assassin in 1974, while Park’s father, dictator Park Chung-hee, was president (he was assassinated by his own intelligence chief.)
Allegations surfaced about the younger Choi’s improper access after an abandoned computer believed to be Choi’s, and containing secret documents, was found by CNN-affiliate JTBC.
Choung, the MP who left the Saenuri party, said the scandal represents the “the worst abuse of the Constitution in history.”
Park would later apologized for the scandal. Choi was arrested and charged, but public pressure continued to mount.
South Korean presidents are immune from prosecution, but when attorneys in the probe wanted to speak with Park as a suspect in the ongoing corruption probe, her lawyers said she was happy to help, but too busy to meet with them.
Parliament voted to impeach Park, the country’s first female leader, on December 9 by a vote of 234 to 56.
“I solemnly accept the voices of the National Assembly and the people and sincerely hope that the current confusion will come to an end in an orderly manner,” Park said after the vote.
KJ Kwon reported from Seoul, while Joshua Berlinger reported and wrote from Hong Kong. CNN’s James Griffiths, Chieu Luu and Ben Westcott contributed to this report