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Lien Chan Files Suit for New Poll

Taiwan's opposition Monday filed its second lawsuit in eight days with the island's high court seeking to nullify the highly disputed "presidential" election and hold a new poll.

The request by challenger Lien Chan, also chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), came as part of his legal strategy to challenge the narrow re-election of Chen Shui-bian, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). 

Lien filed a separate lawsuit last Monday demanding a recount of the ballots of the March 20 election in which Chen won by a razor-thin margin. He cited as a primary reason a record 330,000 invalid ballots and numerous voting irregularities.

The opposition also claimed that a mysterious election-eve shooting that slightly wounded both Chen and his running mate, Annette Lu, caused a swelling of sympathy votes.

The high court held a hearing on Friday and gave the two sides five days to iron out terms of a vote recount, including on what form the re-tally should take and who will foot the bill.

On March 26, the island's "central election committee" certified the victory of Chen by just 0.2 percent, or less than 30,000 votes out of more than 13 million ballots cast.

KMT spokesman Alex Tsai reportedly said that Lien Monday filed a petition with the high court for a new election because Chen "used fraud to gain power ... and people will question the legality of his power in the next four years."

The "central election commission" violated the law as it did not postpone the "presidential" polls in the wake of the shooting, said Lee Fu-dan, one of Lien's lawyers.

The KMT lawyer was quoted by the Taiwan-based ETtoday.com as claiming that Chen's failed "defensive referendum" on whether Taiwan should beef up its military capabilities against the mainland and hold peace talks with Beijing -- held at the same time as the election -- was illegal.

"The election should be considered 'invalid' because the referendum law states that plebiscites on 'sovereignty' issues should not be held in tandem with major national elections," he reportedly said.

The KMT move came amid a bout of resignations by three senior government officials over the shooting of Chen.

Chang Si-liang, director-general of the "national police administration," told reporters Monday that he has submitted his resignation letter and was waiting for it to be accepted.

Two other officials who earlier offered to resign because of the shooting were "interior minister" Yu Cheng-hsien and "national security bureau" director Tsai Chao-ming.

The resignation of both Tsai and Yu has been accepted, according to media reports.

Also Monday, KMT lawmakers proposed legislation that a special task force should be set up to investigate the shooting.

(China Daily April 6, 2004)

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