South Korean President Park Geun-hye has accepted the resignations of her top presidential aides, according to her office, amid a political crisis involving an old friend.
The friend, Choi Soon-sil, is the 60-year-old daughter of a South Korean religious leader and one-time mentor of Park.
Choi, who has close ties to Park but holds no official position and no security clearance, has been accused of abusing her personal connections for influence and interfering in state affairs.
Park carried out a partial reshuffle of her key aides on Sunday after ordering her secretariat to hand in their resignations earlier this week.
She accepted the resignations submitted by her chief of staff and four senior presidential secretaries, Jung Youn-Kuk, presidential spokesperson, said in a statement.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Seoul, said Park has been facing calls to resign over the scandal.
“Park’s top aides stepped down after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Seoul on Saturday to call for her resignation,” he said.
There were similar protests elsewhere, including the country’s second largest city, Busan.