Taiwan president's supporters rally
Thousands of supporters of Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian gathered
in a Taipei park Saturday to protest mounting calls for the leader to
step down over alleged corruption.
They shouted pro-Chen slogans and waved placards at the rally aimed
at countering an anti-Chen campaign launched by Shih Ming-teh, a former
head of the president's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
"We must stand by President Chen, who was elected by the Taiwanese
people and protest the native regime," Wang Ben-hu, a co-organizer of
the event, told the crowd.
"We oppose Shih's drive to oust the president because he has no right
to do so and he is an indecent person," Wang said.
Chen was elected in 2000, ending the Kuomintang's 51-year grip on
power. He was narrowly reelected for a second and final term in 2004.
Many of the protestors came from southern Taiwan, a traditional
stronghold of the independence-leaning DPP.
Shih, who has secured the endorsement of over one million people, is
planning to begin an indefinite round-the-clock sit-in outside the
presidential office no later than September 9 to demand that Chen
Shih's office has said that some 200,000 people are expected to join
the mass protest when it starts.
Prosecutors have stepped up a probe into whether Chen misused funds
intended for national affairs. Some members of his family are also
facing corruption allegations.
The president's wife Wu Shu-chen is being investigated for allegedly
accepting large amounts of department store gift certificates and their
son-in-law Chao Chien-ming has been indicted for insider trading.
One of the president's former top aides has been charged with graft.
Separately, DPP lawmaker Wang Sing-nan and his supporters Saturday
protested outside Shih's headquarters to demand the return of money they
donated to his legislative campaign years ago.