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VOTE RECOUNT EXPECTED TO BEGIN SOON: PRESIDENTIAL AIDE

2004-03-30 19:36:34

    Taipei, March 30 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian's letter of consent to allow for an immediate and across-the-board recount of ballots cast in the March 20 presidential election is expected to be delivered to the Taiwan Hight Court soon, a presidential aide disclosed Tuesday.

    Huang Chih-fang, director of the Department of Public Affairs under the Presidential Office, made the remarks after the opposition "pan-blue alliance" of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) filed a lawsuit for the nullification of Chen's victory in the election Monday night.

    Noting that President Chen has directed ruling Democratic Progressive Party Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung to form a team of lawyers to handle the case, Huang said he is confident that the president's letter of consent will be submitted to the High Court in a few days to facilitate an immediate recount of votes as demanded by the "pan-blue alliance."

    In response to the opposition camp's requests at a Saturday news conference, Chen said that as long as the alliance's presidential contender files either an annulment or a recount lawsuit, he would sign a letter of consent to allow for an immediate and complete ballot recount regardless of whether evidence of election fraud is provided. "I'm not afraid of the recount, and it is my commitment to fully accept the results of the recount whether or not they are in my favor. I hope that KMT Chairman Lien and PFP Chairman Soong will be able to do the same," Chen said.

    KMT spokesman Chou Shou-hsun said that the lawsuit was filed on the grounds that there are many suspicious points concerning the March 19 gun attack on the Chen-Lu ticket and that the national security mechanism was activated improperly following the shooting.

    The shooting was said by the "pan-blue alliance" to have been staged to win sympathy votes from eligible voters and the alliance claimed that a host of soldiers and police officers were deprived of their right to cast ballots in the election because of the national security mechanism activation.

    Chen and Lu were lightly wounded when an unidentified assailant fired at least two shots at them while the candidates were driving past large crowds of supporters in an open-top jeep in the southern city of Tainan March 19. The shooting grazed Chen's abdomen and hit Lu's right knee.

    The Lien-Soong ticket lost the election to the Chen-Lu ticket by a razor-thin margin of 0.228 percent.

(By Luis Huang)

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