Taiwan's Ruling Party Supports President

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 8, 2006; 4:23 AM

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's ruling party said Wednesday that it would not support efforts to recall President Chen Shui-bian, whose grip on power has been threatened by mounting corruption scandals.

The Democratic Progressive Party's decision removed a major obstacle to Chen completing his term in office, which ends in May 2008. Without the support of at least 15 of the party's 85 lawmakers, an opposition motion to press for his recall will have no chance of passing in the Legislature.

Party Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said the DPP will not take disciplinary measures against Chen because of his promise to resign if the courts found his wife guilty of corruption in connection with the handling of a special diplomatic fund.

"Because of the president's promise, there is no need for the party to take measures against him," Yu told reporters, after the party met to consider Chen's fate in an extraordinary three-hour session.

Chen has said that he and his wife are innocent of embezzling money from the diplomatic fund. He maintains that any irregularities in its bookkeeping are due to confusing and often conflicting regulations regarding the fund's management.

Opposition parties are expected to put the recall motion before Taiwan's legislature this month.

Chen has refused to resign over his alleged role in the mismanagement of the fund, which is used to sustain Taiwanese diplomatic activities abroad. His wife and three former aides were indicted on Friday on charges of embezzling $450,000 from its coffers, and prosecutors said the president could also face indictment once he left office.

As Taiwan's chief executive he enjoys immunity on embezzlement charges.

The ruling party meeting to consider support for Chen was scheduled after the president said Sunday he would stay in office unless his wife was convicted by a judge. The statement infuriated opposition lawmakers who have called for the president to step down at once.

Two earlier bids to oust Chen failed in June and October because the opposition failed to secure the required two-thirds support to refer the issue to an island-wide referendum.

© 2006 The Associated Press