SECURITY MECHANISM DID NOT AFFECT ELECTION: OFFICIAL
Taipei, March 29 (CNA) The activation of the national security mechanism March 19 did not affect the presidential election held the following day, the top aide to President Chen Shui-bian claimed Monday.
Speaking at a meeting with the secretaries-general of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) , Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen said that the number of military personnel and police officers required to remain on duty did not change from the original plan worked out for the March 20 presidential election due to the activation of the national security mechanism following the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu.
Both KMT Chairman Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James Soong, who formed the sole opposition ticket to challenge the Chen-Lu re-election bid and lost the election by a hair-thin margin of 0.228 percent, or 29,518 votes out of more than 13 million ballots cast, criticized the government's move, claiming that it deprived a large number of servicemen and police officers of their voting rights and thus changed the outcome of the poll in Chen's favor.
However, Chiou argued that only the heads of related government agencies, particularly those in charge of national defense, foreign affairs, finance, economic affairs, cross-strait affairs and top aides from the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan and the National Security Council were urged to suspend their leave following the activation of the national security mechanism.
The military personnel and police officers required to stay in their barracks or be on duty in the wake of the activation of the national security mechanism accounted for only one ninth of the total, as was originally planned two months prior to the poll, he added.
Officials from the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said that only 37,855 servicemen were unable to return to their registered domiciles to vote, but the opposition legislators claimed that the figure was far higher.
Meanwhile, officials of the National Police Administration (NPA) said that the relevant statistics are still being investigated.
Hsieh Chang-chieh, PFP legislative whip, claimed that 200,000 military servicemen were unable to vote and asked the MND and the NPA to provide the correct figure.
(By Huang Kwang-chun)
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