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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 06:27 GMT
Taiwan MPs quit over Chen scandal
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian bows to apologise during a press conference at Presidential Office in Taipei 05 November 2006
Mr Chen has apologised for the scandal but maintains his innocence
Two MPs from Taiwan's ruling party have quit parliament in protest at the way the party has handled corruption claims against President Chen Shui-bian.

The moves by Lee Wen-chung and Lin Cho-shui are the first major divisions in the Democratic Progressive Party, which has so far backed Mr Chen.

The president has been under pressure since prosecutors said they had evidence to charge him with corruption.

Mr Chen faces a third motion to recall him from office later this month.

He cannot be prosecuted while he remains president, as he is protected by a special immunity, but his wife, Wu Shu-chen, and three ex-aides have already been charged with the misuse of state funds.

Mr Chen has offered to quit if his wife is found guilty, but opposition supporters want him to resign right away.

Speaking out

In a joint statement read to a news conference on Monday, Mr Lee and Mr Lin said they were leaving parliament to express their dissatisfaction over the handling of the scandal.

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, which 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

"Our party has had a glorious history, but it has also made errors," they said.

"We're using this small action to express our apology to the public."

Opposition legislators are hoping to oust Mr Chen by calling a third recall motion in parliament.

The vote is scheduled for 24 November, and if the motion passes it will trigger a national referendum on whether to get rid of the president.

The opposition parties, which have a small majority in parliament, will need at least 14 ruling party members to back the bill in order for it to succeed.

The last two attempts - in June and October - failed as all Mr Chen's DPP colleagues stood by him.

Initially, some analysts thought that the prosecutors' conclusions would cause some DPP lawmakers to lose faith in their leader and vote in favour of the recall motion.

But most DPP legislators have appeared loyal to Mr Chen - with Mr Lin and Mr Lee notable exceptions.

"Our party (leaders) had promised before that once the president was found to be involved in corruption, he should resign," they are quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

"But our handling of the matter has failed to meet public expectations," their statement said.

New recall bill tabled in Taiwan
10 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan's Chen wins party backing
08 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
New bid to oust Taiwan's leader
06 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan's Chen denies graft charge
05 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan protesters urge Chen to go
04 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Chen Shui-bian
01 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Taiwan
11 Aug 06 |  Country profiles

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