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2004-02-04 19:32:13

    Taipei, Feb. 4 (CNA) The referendum called by President Chen Shui-bian is the result of a double-barreled mistake, opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan, who will compete against Chen in the March 20 presidential election, claimed Wednesday.

    The Referendum Law is seriously flawed in authorizing the president to initiate a referendum in case of emergency and President Chen Shui-bian has committed a mistake in using this power in a situation not intended by the law, Lien said in an interview with a group of media.

    The president's power to call a referendum in case of emergency was included in the Referendum Law at the insistence of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) . It is part of the president's right to address emergencies provided for in the Constitution and should not be included in the Referendum Law, which is of a much lower echelon than the Constitution in the legal system, according to Lien.

    Furthermore, the power awarded to the president by the Referendum Law to call a referendum should be invoked only when the country is threatened by outside forces that might damage its sovereignty. However, the president has abused this power by organizing a referendum that is not designed to deal with any emergency at all, Lien argued.

    Instead of cautioning the president about his mistakes, the Executive Yuan and other related government agencies have turned a blind eye to the controversy surrounding the referendum, which is why many county chiefs are bridling at working with the central government to implement the referendum, Lien claimed.

    The consequences of the referendum will be far-reaching and both the KMT and its political ally the People First Party will have to wait until the referendum's political implications sink in to figure out a way to address them, Lien went on.

    The president's insistence on pushing ahead with the referendum has created an uproar on the international stage because it is considered by many of Taiwan's neighbors as a provocative act. Worst of all, it strains Taiwan's ties with the United States, which is the country's most important supporter, said Lien.

    The United States, preoccupied with the problems in Iraq and North Korea, need Beijing's cooperation and does not want to see Taiwan divert its attention by causing problems with mainland China. To be a considerate friend, the president should take into account the U.S. position and stop the referendum, Lien said.

(By Maubo Chang)


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