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DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES COUP ALLEGATIONS

2004-04-27 22:30:04

    Taipei, April 27 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) insisted Tuesday that the military remained politically neutral throughout the election period and that the so-called "coup" issue is non-existent in the military.

    MND spokesman Maj. Gen. Huang Suey-sheng made the remarks a day after the opposition People First Party (PFP) filed a slander suit against President Chen Shui-bian, who claimed over the weekend the the opposition camp planned a coup after his re-election victory in the March 20 election. "Some say the opposition's protests from March 21 through 27 was an aborted coup d'etat, " Chen said while addressing an anniversary celebration ceremony at Chiayi Senior High School in southern Taiwan.

    Speaking at a regular MND news conference, however, Huang said the military has consistently remained loyal to the government. "It is a consistent position of the military to maintain neutral and not to involve itself in politics, " Huang said. "The military belongs to the country rather than to any particular political party or individual politician. This will remain unchanged no matter which party comes to power."

    Huang also dismissed as "an unfounded, subjective judgment" a Jane's report that mainland China can take Taiwan within seven days. "My observation is that the writer of the article did not have a full understanding of the cross-Taiwan Strait situation and the current state of our combat preparedness, " Huang said, adding that the military can safeguard national security.

    Tens of thousands of supporters of the opposition "pan-blue alliance" of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the PFP staged sometimes violent protests after Chen defeated the "pan-blue alliance" presidential candidate, KMT Chairman Lien Chan, by a slim margin.

    The opposition argues that an election-eve shooting that left Chen and Vice President Annette Lu slightly injured unfairly swayed sympathy votes in Chen's favor. The opposition has filed two lawsuits demanding a recount and nullification of the entire election.

    The Taiwan High Court has ruled that a full-scale recount should begin May 10 at the latest, in order to be finished before Chen's scheduled May 20 inauguration for a second four-year term.

(By Sofia Wu)

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