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2004-02-24 16:20:51

    Taipei, Feb. 24 (CNA) The armed forces will be on a 39-hour heightened alert to help maintain domestic law and order before, during and after the presidential election on March 20, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

    Maj. Gen. Huang Suey-sheng confirmed that the Ministry of National Defense has designated the March 20 presidential election day as a period for special combat preparedness.

    The military will be at their positions of "heightened levels of alert" in the 39 hours beginning from 5 p.m. March 19 and ending at 8 a.m. March 21 to ensure that the presidential election and the nation's first-ever referendum will be held smoothly, Huang said.

    Noting that the armed forces will be well prepared against "surprise attack from outside" and "accidental crisis from within, " Huang said that the military will be on guard against any emergencies, including electoral affairs disputes, protests, terrorist attacks, threats to candidates' personal safety, and a mainland attack or efforts by Beijing to intimidate the island.

    The military intelligence units, which have maintained constant vigilance against any suspicious or abnormal activities in the Taiwan Strait, have also heightened their surveillance to "uncover situations early and make quick responses" to protect Taiwan's security, Huang said.

    Meanwhile, combat forces have also mapped out response options and have conducted training exercises to cope with possible "abnormal" mainland military actions, he said.

    He added that as of noon Tuesday, the defense ministry has seen no abnormal mainland Chinese military activities, including movements of its missile and submarine forces.

    Meanwhile, Huang noted that the just-begun joint military exercise between the United States and the Philippines conducted in the western part of the Philippines has nothing to do with Taiwan's upcoming presidential election.

    Huang said the U.S. and Philippine armed forces conduct joint military drills regularly on an annual basis as the two countries maintain a mutual defense pact.

    The annual military exercise has usually been conducted on Palawan Island to the west of the Philippines between Feb. 23 and March 7 each year, Huang added.

(By Deborah Kuo)


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