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MILITARY COUP WOULD BE OUT OF THE QUESTION: DEFENSE MINISTER

2004-04-30 20:08:41

    Taipei, April 30 (CNA) The armed forces are loyal to the country and have high morale, so there is no question of a coup, Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-min was quoted as saying Friday.

    Legislator Chin Hui-chu, who called on the minister along with several other People First Party (PFP) lawmakers said afterward that Tang said the armed forces have come a long way in remaining neutral in politics since Tang took office; therefore, it is out of the question that the armed forces could stage a coup.

    The PFP, which was accused by President Chen Shui-bian of attempting a military coup d'etat along with its political partner the Kuomintang after the March 20 presidential election, has sought to clear the party of the charge with officials' statements that there was no hint of a coup.

    Chin said the minister also assured the PFP lawmakers that the number of military personnel ordered to remain in their barracks on March 20 has been sealed to prevent meddling. The Control Yuan and law enforcement authorities may look into the matter to settle the controversy over whether extra troops were kept in their barracks during election day, as the opposition has claimed, to the detriment of the opposition presidential candidate.

    As to planned arms purchases from the United States, the minister was quoted as saying that his ministry is negotiating with the Pentagon over the details of the deal; however, the special budget for the purchase will have to be prepared by his successor as Tang is set to retire by May 20 when President Chen is inaugurated for his second term.

    Tang has been plagued by eye illness and has not been seen in public since March 20.

(By Maubo Chang)

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