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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Taiwan's leader defends record

Opposition lawmakers protest against Mr Chen outside the presidential building on 20 June 06
Opposition lawmakers are seeking to oust Mr Chen
Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has hit back at critics who want him to resign.

He defended his administration in a live televised address, a day before the legislature was to begin debating a motion to remove him from office.

Mr Chen is facing pressure to step down after a series of scandals allegedly involving his family and aides.

Lawmakers are due to vote on 27 June on whether to hold a public referendum to remove the president.

President Chen had a week in which he could have sent a written statement to the legislature defending his leadership.

Instead he decided to speak to people via TV.

"Clean government is my highest principle," he said, denying allegations that his wife, Wu Shu-chen, accepted gift vouchers from the Sogo department store.

"If my wife took Sogo vouchers, I promised I would step down. This promise will never expire," he said.

Earlier, his decision not to write to the legislature infuriated a group of around 20 opposition lawmakers, who attempted to march in front of the presidential office waving placards and calling on the president to step down.

They said his refusal to issue a written defence showed contempt for the legislature and was tantamount to an admission of guilt. Scuffles broke out with police.

Turmoil

The opposition parties are pushing for the president's removal from office, saying he has lost the public's trust following a series of corruption scandals allegedly involving his family and aides.

But government officials say the recall motion lacks legitimacy as the president is not personally implicated in any wrongdoing.

But the president's televised speech is unlikely to silence his critics, says the BBC's Caroline Gluck in Taipei.

While most analysts believe he will survive the vote to force him out of office - as the opposition hold only a slim majority in the legislature - there is likely to be more political turmoil ahead.

The opposition parties say if the vote fails, they will attempt to topple the cabinet by tabling a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.




SEE ALSO
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Taiwan press weighs Chen retreat
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Taiwan leader surrenders powers
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25 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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Profile: Chen Shui-bian
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