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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 09:03 GMT
Taiwan protesters urge Chen to go
Protesters blocked by the police
Mr Chen may face more than street protests next week
Protesters have taken to the streets in Taiwan to demand the resignation of President Chen Shui-bian.

The move comes a day after prosecutors said they had enough evidence to charge him with corruption - even though he is protected by presidential immunity.

On Friday, they charged his wife and three former presidential aides with the alleged misuse of state funds.

President Chen has been undermined by a series of scandals involving his family and his office in recent months.

He has lost the people's trust and respect
Ma Ying-jeou
Opposition Nationalist Party

He has already survived two opposition attempts to remove him from office, including one last month.

The governing Democratic Progressive Party has urged the president to explain himself in public - and an aide to Mr Chen said he was to deliver a speech within two days.

However, one of his former allies, Shih Ming-teh, led an unauthorised protest in Taipei on Saturday to press demands for the president to step down.

There were minor scuffles with the police outside Mr Chen's office.

Scuffles break out as Shih Ming-teh leads protests in Taipei
Shih Ming-teh has been leading several of the protests

The main opposition parties have said that if the president does not resign, they willd launch a third attempt in parliament next week to force him out of office.

Members of the small Taiwan Solidarity Union political party, a former ally of the president's Democratic Progressive Party or DPP, have said that if the motion is tabled, they would vote along with the opposition.

Many DPP members have argued that President Chen has become too much of a liability and should be replaced before the 2008 presidential elections, says the BBC's Caroline Gluck in Taipei.

Secret fund

The charges relate to the handling of a secret presidential fund used for diplomatic work overseas. Officials say about $500,000 could not be properly accounted for.

During the four-month investigation, officials looked at six separate cases involving the use of the fund. They said the president's explanation for two were verified, but three were questionable and one was described as pure fiction.

March 2004: President Chen narrowly wins re-election
May 2006: President's son-in-law held over insider trading claims. Charged in July
Allegations of improper conduct involving Chen's wife and senior aides also surface
June: Chen cedes some powers to PM amid outcry
Unprecedented opposition motion to oust him, which fails
September: Two weeks of pro and anti-Chen marches
Opposition launch new bid to recall Chen. Again fails
October: Wu Shu-chen cleared of accepting shop vouchers in return for influence
November: Wu Shu-chen charged with corruption over handling of secret presidential funds
Prosecutors say enough evidence to indict Chen, but he is protected by presidential immunity

After charging the first lady - who has previously denied any wrongdoing - the prosecutor's office said "evidence also showed Chen is suspected of graft and forgery".

"But since he is protected by constitution against criminal charges, he can only be prosecuted after he leaves office," Chang Wen-cheng, of the prosecutor's office, said.

President Chen has been facing growing calls for his resignation in recent months over the scandals to hit his family and office.

Last month, Wu Shu-chen was cleared of accepting vouchers from a department store in return for her influence.

In May, her son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, was arrested and later charged with insider trading.

Mr Chen, whose term of office is due to run until 2008, has apologised for the scandals and did cede some powers to Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang in June to placate his critics, but has refused to resign.

Viewpoints: Taiwan graft scandal
03 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan leader faces mass protest
09 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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27 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Protests against Chen gain ground
07 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Chen Shui-bian
01 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Taiwan
11 Aug 06 |  Country profiles

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