Ousted South Korea President Park Geun Hye not voting in election: Reports

South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye salutes the national flag during her inauguration at the parliament in Seoul on Feb 25, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - Ousted South Korean president Park Geun Hye has decided not to vote in Tuesday's (May 9) presidential election,which was triggered by her impeachment, local media reported.

According to local news reports, she gave up her right to vote as she did not ask for an absentee ballot, which is provided to inmates in detention facilities, reported Korea Herald.

Park, 65, was sacked by the country's highest court in March over over a wide-ranging corruption and influence-peddling scandal that has rocked the country for months. Tens of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets to demand her resignation after the scandal broke late last year.

She faces 18 criminal counts - five of bribery and 11 of abuse of power, plus one each of coercion and leaking government secrets. She has denied all charges.

Her long-time firend Choi Soon Sil is also in jail and facing trial. Samsung chief Lee Jae Yong is behind bars too, accused of giving money to Choi-led foundations in return for government support for a controversial restructuring deal that reportedly strengthened his control of the chaebol.

They have denied any wrongdoing.

The presidential election was originally slated for December but was brought forward because of Park's ouster, the country's first.

Many voters marked Tuesday's election by taking photos at polling stations, sharing them on social media and encouraging fellow citizens to take part in the vote, reported Yonhap news agency. Voting is not compulsory in South Korea.

Said 24-year-old voter Chung Yu Jin: "This election wouldn't have taken place if there weren't people who took to the streets every weekend last winter."

An official from the National Election Commission (NEC) said it expects the turnout to reach a record 80 per cent level by the time voting ends at 8pm.

Barring a major upset, frontrunner Moon Jae In of the Democratic Party is expected to win the race. The 64-year-old former human rights lawyer has maintained a strong lead over his closest rivals in various opinion polls - ex software mogul Ahn Cheol Soo from the centre-left People's Party and former prosecutor Hong Joon Pyo from the conservative Liberty Korea Party.

Liberty Korea Party was formerly known as Saenuri, a party led by Park.

Park, the first-born of military strongman and former president Park Chung Hee, defeated Mr Moon in 2012 by 3.6 percentage points to become South Korea's first female president.

About 51.6 per cent of South Koreans voted for Park at that time, the highest share ever won by any presidential candidate since 1987.

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