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RECOUNT OF PRESIDENTIAL BALLOTS COMPLETED

2004-05-18 23:30:59

    Taipei, May 18 (CNA) The recount of the more-than 13 million ballots in the March 20 election was completed Tuesday after judges from the Panchiao District Court finised examining the last batch of ballots in Taipei County.

    Although the Taiwan High Court, which is hearing a lawsuit seeking to annul the election, refused to revealed how many ballots were considered questionable, attorneys in the case said there are disputes over the validity of about 38,000 votes.

    They said the nummber of the disputed votes is too small to reverse the result of the election in which opposition Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan was defeated by a margin of less than 30,000 ballots.

    Unable to accept defeat, Lien demanded that the Taiwan High Court nullify the election.

    A judge from a panel of five assigned to hear the case dismissed the significance of the number of disputed votes, saying that their value should be determined in the trial and there is no point in disclosing their number until that has been done.

    What is more important is the next step in the case, he said, wherein attorneys for the plaintiff will ask the court to investigate what they claim is the "unfairness" of the election including the combination of the presidential election with a referendum initiated by President Chen Shui-bian, and the decision to put the government on a higher alert after President Chen was injured in an assassination attempt on the eve of polling day.

    Since the law stipulates that the case should be completed within six months, the Taiwan High Court is obliged to hand down a ruling before Sept. 29.

(By Maubo Chang)

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