Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says he will not run for South Korea's presidency, in a surprise announcement that removes a well-known figure from contention and further stirs the country's already tumultuous politics.
"I, my family and the United Nations have been greatly hurt ..."
Ban, during a hastily arranged news conference, said he was disappointed by the country's political establishment.
A court is considering Park's impeachment, and if it upholds the decision, then a presidential election for her replacement would come two months later.
The media leapt on a series of minor blunders, for instance, when he took the airport express train instead of a limo on his return to South Korea, but did not know how to buy a ticket. He was criticised for wearing a bib when the woman was not - and for feeding her while she was lying flat on her back. Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost the 2012 election to Park, is the current front-runner.
Mr Ban had been expected to run as a conservative but was unable to secure any party affiliation.
Ban Ki-moon vows not to run for presidency in South Korea
Ban's public profile was also affected when his brother Ban Ki-sang was indicted and a nephew was arrested in the U.S. in a bribery scheme involving a Vietnamese development project.
Mr Ban appeared to have significant support early in an unofficial campaign and was at one time the perceived frontrunner, but his approval ratings fell sharply as he faced criticism about his political competence.
The former South Korea foreign minister's decision shocked people across the nation.
It is unclear who will replace Ban from the ruling party. "And people felt (he) should not be a president".
The United States has indicted Ban's younger brother and his nephew on charges of bribery related to the sale of a high-rise building in Vietnam, and it has asked South Korea to extradite them both.
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