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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-314556 Taiwan / Politics
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=03/29/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT - L

TITLE=TAIWAN/POLITICS

NUMBER=2-314556

BYLINE=KURT ACHIN

DATELINE=HONG KONG

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: Taiwan authorities are taking steps to resolve turmoil over this month's presidential election, with the president agreeing to endorse an opposition lawsuit calling for a vote recount. Officials also set in motion an investigation into the controversial shooting of the island's president and vice president. Kurt Achin has more from Hong Kong.

TEXT: Senior aides to Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian agreed with opposition leaders to set up a task force to investigate the March 19th shooting of Mr. Chen and Vice President Annette Lu.

They were shot and slightly wounded the day before the island's elections, which President Chen went on to win by a razor-thin margin. No suspects have been arrested.

Supporters of the opposition Kuomintang, or K-M-T, have raised allegations that President Chen's Democratic Progressive Party, or D-P-P, orchestrated the shooting to win last-minute sympathy votes.

Three forensic specialists from the United States are in Taiwan to lend their expertise to an investigation. They plan to examine the shooting scene as well as physical evidence before returning home Tuesday.

Lien Chan, the K-M-T leader and presidential candidate, was expected to file a court petition formally requesting a vote recount and an annulment of the election result. President Chen says he will issue a letter of consent to speed the legal process along.

Presidential spokesman James Huang says Mr. Chen hopes to meet with Mr. Lien later in the week, and adds that negotiations with the opposition will be frank and open.

/// SPOKESMAN ACT-MANDARIN, ESTABLISH AND FADE ///

Mr. Huang says there is nothing the two sides cannot say to each other in face-to-face talks.

Taiwan Election Commission officials say a recount could be completed in as few as one or two days, once it is approved. That news is welcome to many who are concerned about prolonged political paralysis on the island.

Taiwan's stock market rallied on Monday, apparently because of hopes that politicians are closer to settling the election dispute.

Thousands of protesters have demonstrated daily since the March 20th election. In the biggest such demonstration, Mr. Lien led an estimated half million K-M-T supporters to a protest on Saturday in front of the presidential palace in Taipei.

Beijing, which claims Taiwan as a breakaway province, has warned it will not stand idly by if Taiwan descends into chaos. Mainland China has threatened the possible use of force in Taiwan on numerous occasions in the past. (SIGNED)

HK/NEB/KA/KPD



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