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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 22:15 GMT 23:15 UK
Thousands rally for Taiwan leader
Supporters of Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian at a rally in Taipei
Saturday's march followed an anti-Chen protest a day earlier
Tens of thousands of Taiwanese have taken to the streets of the capital, Taipei, in support of their embattled President, Chen Shui-bian.

The protest was organised to counter a demonstration on Friday demanding Mr Chen's resignation.

The president is under pressure to quit over a string of corruption scandals surrounding his family and aides.

Organisers of Saturday's march said the opposition campaign was endangering Taiwan's democracy.

Emergency order

Many protestors waved green flags with the Chinese characters for "Taiwan", a symbol of support for independence, a cause linked to Mr Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"If there is no concrete evidence, you can't make such claims against him," a protester who gave her name as Ms Tsang told the Associated Press new agency. "If we are pursuing democracy, everything has got to be clarified."

Estimates of the number of people present varied widely with organisers claiming that 200,000 turned up but police putting the figure closer to 60,000.

The rally was organised by the pro-government Taiwan Group, but reports say Mr Chen's DPP issued an emergency order to mobilise party members nationwide.

The party organised buses to bring supporters to the capital.

On Friday, a much larger march took place in the capital with organisers claiming as many as three quarters of a million took part.

Police said the number of red-clad protestors was around 320,000.

Scandals

The president's popularity has plummeted amid scandals involving relatives and aides.

His son-in-law is facing charges - which he denies - of insider trading on the stock market, while his wife has also been accused of accepting department store vouchers.

Prosecutors have also questioned Mr Chen over allegations of misuse of public funds.

His term of office is due to run until 2008 and, though he has apologised for the scandals, he is refusing to resign, saying that the rallies are simply part of opposition attempts to bring him down.

In June Mr Chen survived an unprecedented parliamentary attempt by the opposition Kuomintang to remove him from office.


SEE ALSO
Taiwan leader faces mass protest
09 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Protests against Chen gain ground
07 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan's Chen survives key vote
27 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan MPs in motion to oust Chen
13 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Chen Shui-bian
19 May 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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