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DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES TOP BRASSES OFFER TO RESIGN AFTER ELECTION

2004-05-01 17:51:30

    Taipei, May 1 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense on Saturday denied a newspaper report that Chief of the General Staff Gen. Li Chieh and three of his deputies offered to resign after the March 20 presidential election.

    In a statement issued through its Office of the Spokesman, the ministry said that Defense Minister Tang Yiau-min has never received an offer of resignation from Li Chieh or his deputies, adding that Li has stuck to the principle of neutrality in politics ever since he took the reigns of the General Staff Headquarters. It added that Li has been devoted to upgrading the overall strength of the armed forces and improving its war readiness.

    The statement said that in a March 17 meeting, in which Li and his three deputies were reportedly at odds with Tang about whether military personnel engaged in war-readiness duties could go to vote in the March 20 presidential election, a Legislative Yuan Judiciary Committee resolution was discussed, and it was decided that furlough regulations would not be changed. In other words, no military personnel on leave on May 20 would be kept in barracks for any reason.

    The statement said the defense ministry regrets that newspapers would carry such a baseless report, adding that "they should verify their stories before printing them."

    Deputy Minister of National Defense Lin Chong-pin, who was reportedly scolded by Tang for supporting the top brasses's opinions at the March 17 meeting, refused to comment on the report carried in Saturday's China Times, saying that it was a closed-door meeting and that he is not supposed to discuss its contents.

    The newspaper said Le Chieh offended Tang at that meeting by suggesting letting armed forces members engaged in war-preparedness duties March 20 cast their ballots in turns as in previous elections in light of the relatively peaceful situation across the Taiwan Strait in the lead up to the presidential election.

    However, the tranquility was interrupted March 19, the China Times said, when President Chen Shui-bian was shot and wounded on the eve of the election, and the armed forces were thereby put on higher alert, resulting in more soldiers being kept from voting.

(By Maubo Chang)

ENDITEM/Li



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