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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 06:22 GMT
Taiwan's Chen survives key vote
Opposition politicians protest after the failed recall vote on 24 November 2006
Opposition politicians protested after the failure of the vote
A third attempt to pass a recall motion aimed at ousting Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has failed.

Taiwan's opposition was hoping to get enough votes to force a referendum on the future of the embattled leader.

But ruling party members showed their support for Mr Chen by boycotting the vote, preventing the bill from getting the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Mr Chen has been under pressure in recent months because of a series of alleged corruption scandals.

His wife, Wu Shu-chen, and three former aides have been indicted by Taiwanese prosecutors on the misuse of state funds.

Mr Chen himself cannot be prosecuted while in office, as he is protected by presidential immunity.

Keeping up the pressure

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

Chen Shui-bian in Taipei on 24 November 2006
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

But, as was the case in the last two attempts to oust Mr Chen - in June and October - all Mr Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) colleagues stood by him and the vote failed.

A total of 118 legislators voted in favour of the recall motion - well short of the 146 needed for it to pass.

When this third motion was originally tabled, there had been speculation that some DPP members - as well as legislators from smaller parties allied to the DPP - would drop their support for Mr Chen in the light of prosecutors' claims that they have enough evidence to charge him with corruption.

But as the vote drew near, correspondents say it grew increasingly apparent that DPP members would remain loyal to their president.

In fact many Taiwanese had questioned the decision to hold the vote, given its widely predicted outcome, according to the BBC correspondent in Taipei, Caroline Gluck.

Pressure on President Chen to resign has also eased in recent weeks, our correspondent says.

Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of the main opposition party, the Kuomintang, has faced allegations of misusing his special mayoral allowance.

Prosecutors are also looking into the use of public funds by many other senior government officials.

Nevertheless, President Chen's political troubles are far from over, our correspondent says.

Crucial mayoral and local government elections early next month in Taiwan's largest cities, Taipei and Kaohsiung, will be a key test of public opinion towards the president and his party.

Heavy losses for the governing party could force open internal party splits, and increase pressure on the leadership to clearly distance itself from the president.

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01 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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