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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Chen vows constitutional reform
President Chen Shui-bian and Vice-President Annette Lu
Mr Chen has been certified Taiwan's elected president
Taiwan's re-elected President Chen Shui-bian has vowed to press ahead with plans to rewrite the constitution, in comments likely to alarm China.

In a BBC interview, Mr Chen also repeated his view that the island was an independent country.

China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory, has threatened war if Mr Chen formally declares independence.

The BBC's Chris Hogg says Mr Chen seemed relaxed and confident, despite moves to overturn the election result.

The opposition Kuomintang has alleged various irregularities regarding the 20 March poll, including the election-eve shooting of Mr Chen.

But Mr Chen said he was confident the dispute would soon be resolved, and criticised his defeated opponents.

We have never rigged the vote nor have I attempted to stage any kind of incident
Chen Shui-bian

"What concerns me more is that some people refuse to face their own election failure, and they went into such extent to mobilise their supporters to engage in long protests which resulted in the instability and division of our society and people," he said.

Our correspondent says Mr Chen did not appear like a man on the ropes. He was sure in his messages and already making detailed plans for the next four years, our correspondent says.

Mr Chen said constitutional reform was needed to modernise Taiwan's political institutions and enshrine certain rights.

He said that constitutional reform was "never a timetable for independence", and he said that anyone who confused the two subjects - a comment directed especially at China - was distorting the issue.

"We want to put the new constitution to a direct referendum of the people to decide whether they want to accept the new constitution or not, and this new constitution will have no bearing on the issue of unification or independence, nor will it change the status quo," he said.

Analysts say China is unlikely to be moved by Mr Chen's comments, since Beijing sees the reforms as a mechanism to shift Taiwan towards formal independence.

Diplomatic battle

In his first broadcast interview since the election, Mr Chen repeated his view that Taiwan was an "independent sovereign country".

Chen Shui-bian: 6,471,970 (50.11%)
Lien Chan: 6,442,452 (49.89%)
337,297 invalid ballots
Turnout: 80.28%
Source: Central Election Commission

Although he has made similar remarks before, his latest comments are likely to anger Beijing, which is already wary of his plans for his next four-year mandate.

Mr Chen was speaking after Taiwan's opposition filed a lawsuit on Monday to contest the result of the 20 March presidential election.

Opposition leader Lien Chan is demanding a recount, as well as an inquiry into the shooting of Mr Chen.

On Tuesday, Mr Chen formally agreed to a recount, though it is up to the courts to decide if and when it takes place.

Mr Chen was re-elected by fewer than 30,000 votes, prompting critics to say he had won thanks to a sympathy vote triggered by the shooting.

In a blow for Taiwan, the Caribbean island of Dominica on Tuesday switched diplomatic recognition to China.

Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said his government had decided its policy on China was wrong.

Mr Skerrit also said China had agreed to give Dominica more than $100m in aid over the next five years.

The decision reduces the number of countries who recognise Taiwan rather than China to 26.

The BBC's Chris Hogg
"I have great confidence in Taiwan's democracy"

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