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Chen Shui-bian Urged to Cancel Inauguration

Taiwan's opposition lawmakers have urged re-elected "president" Chen Shui-bian to cancel his inauguration next week as the recount of the disputed March election enters the fifth day on Saturday. 

The legislators say the recount, expected to take 10 days, is showing the vote was riddled with serious problems, including missing voter lists, mismarked ballots and votes that were sealed in the wrong bags, said lawyers with the Kuomintang (KMT).


Taiwan media reports said that already more than 30,000 votes have been challenged.


That should prompt the "president" to call off next Thursday's inauguration, the opposition said.


"Friends in the media, people of Taiwan, we must speak out loudly. Under these conditions, the organization of the inauguration should be halted," KMT legislator Sun Kauo-hwa said in a speech in the island's top legislature, "legislative yuan."


Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), however, argues that the mistakes are connected to sloppiness inevitable in all major elections.


The ruling party says there's no evidence of an organized effort to rig the March 20 vote that the "president" won by a razor-thin 0.2 percent margin, or 30,000 votes.


The high court, which is overseeing the recount, has declined to say who's winning the recount and how many ballots have been counted. It will make a final ruling on how each of the disputed votes that were singled out by lawyers representing the rival candidates should be counted.


Another opposition lawmaker, Chou Hsi-wei, of the People First Party, also called for a cancellation of the inauguration.


When a majority of people doubt that Chen won the March 20 election by relying on cheating and fraud, he should announce now that on May 20 he will not be inaugurated, Chou told the "parliament."


The opposition is planning a protest during the inauguration ceremony.


In a related development, Taiwan police said on Friday they have detained three suspects who might have been involved in an unexplained March 19 shooting that lightly injured Chen and his running mate, Annette Lu.


The suspects were caught with handguns and bullets similar to those police think were used in the attack, investigator Wang Chong-jong told reporters in the southern city of Kaohsiung.


Police were also suspicious about the suspects -- two men and a woman who weren't fully identified -- because one of them operated a pub near the shooting scene in Tainan, the southern city where Chen was shot while parading in an open Jeep, Wang said.


However, initial tests showed that the weapon and bullets were not identical to those used in the shooting, prosecutor Wang Sen-jong said.


"The gun and bullets tested today were smaller than the ones used on March 19. They didn't match," the prosecutor said.


But investigators suspected the men might have other weapons, and they were still looking for a possible connection with the shooting. Both men said they were innocent, police said.


The arrests could revitalize the investigation that has gone on for several weeks without turning up any suspects or major leads.


After searching the suspects' home, police found two handguns and 33 bullets with bronze and lead tips like the ones used in the "presidential" shooting, said Hou You-yi, head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau.


One of the guns was German-made and the other was produced in an illegal workshop, police said.


(China Daily May 15, 2004)

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