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DEFENSE CHIEF SAYS MILITARY IS NEUTRAL AND NO COUP WAS PLANNED

2004-05-11 18:30:25

    Taipei, May 11 (CNA) Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-min said on Tuesday that the military maintained administrative neutrality throughout during campaigning for the recent presidential election and that there was no coup d'etat in the works during the presidential campaign or any time afterward.

    Tang was responding to questions on the sidelines of a funeral for Liu Chin-ling, a former president of the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology.

    President Chen Shui-bian said late last month that 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.

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

    The opposition argues that an election-eve shooting that left Chen and Vice President Annette Lu slightly injured unfairly swayed the bitterly contested election in Chen's favor. Chen won by just 29,518 votes out of more than 13 million ballots cast.

    Meanwhile, Tang, who has insisted on leaving the post because of persistent eye problems, said that his eyesight has returned to more than half of a normal person.

(By Lilian Wu)

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