NEW MND HEAD TO MAINTAIN POLITICAL STABILITY
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, May 18 (CNA) The appointment of a senior military officer to head the Ministry of National Defense (MND) was made in the hope of maintaining political stability prior to two significant elections, Vice Premier-designate Chiou I-jen said Friday.
The choice was made after taking various factors into consideration, including political stability, the priorities of the MND, and ways for the government to face continuous confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties, Chiou said.
He offered the explanation in response to media inquiries on an earlier announcement by Premier-designate Chang Chun-hsiung that he had named former Chief of the General Staff Lee Tien-yu as the new minister of national defense, replacing Lee Jye, who will be retiring.
The appointment incurred doubt about President Chen Shui-bian's pledge to put the military under civilian control.
Lee, an air force general, served as air force combat commander, deputy commander-in-chief and commander-in-chief before taking office as the MND's chief of the general staff May 20, 2004. Lee was transferred from the position to serve as a strategy advisor to the president Feb. 1.
Chiou, who currently serves as chief of staff to the president, said Chen's biggest concern is that he has only a year left of his presidential term and that during the year-end legislative elections and the 2008 presidential election, it is more important for the MND to have a leader capable of maintaining the neutrality and stability of the armed forces, Chiou said.
As the elections approach, Chiou predicted that interparty clashes will even exacerbate and that the MND therefore needs to be more careful and cautious in the face of sensitive political changes.
(By Elizabeth Hsu)
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