South Korea's parliament has voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye after a corruption scandal paralysed her administration and triggered massive street protests.
The parliamentary vote passed with a majority of more than two-thirds on Friday: 234 for and 56 against.
In a televised statement aired shortly after news of the vote broke, Park apologised for the political "chaos" in the country and urged the government to remain vigilant on the economy and national security.
"I'm so sorry for all South Koreans that I created chaos with my carelessness when our country faces so many difficulties, from the economy to national defence," she said.
She now faces the prospect of going down in history as the first democratically elected South Korean president to be removed from office.
Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from the National Assembly in Seoul, said cheers from protesters who had gathered outside echoed through the building as the motion came through.
"This is a big vindication of the impeachment motion," he added.
"It sends, as the opposition wanted, a strong signal of the will of the national assembly as we go to the next stage of this process."
South Korea's Constitutional Court now has six months to decide whether to uphold the motion and remove Park from office or reject it and reinstate her.
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who holds what is largely a ceremonial role, will serve as acting president until the court delivers a ruling.
While the court reviews her case, Park will keep her title as President, continue to stay at the presidential Blue House, use her official car and plane, and collect the same monthly salary, according to an AP news agency report.
Bong Youngshik, the director of the Foreign Policy studies programme at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, told Al Jazeera there was no guarantee Park would be permanently removed from office.
"We have to remain cautious, [following] a 2004 impeachment case against former President Roh Moo-hyun which the Constitutional court rejected. The impeachment against President Park should be based upon concrete evidence and a 'serious breach of the constitution and law'. Nothing is settled yet."
This Article has been cross-posted from Al Jazeera News