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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Taiwan opposition picks candidate
A former mayor of Taipei has been nominated as the opposition candidate in Taiwan's presidential election.

But Ma Ying-jeou, who is seen as a front-runner in the 2008 poll, is also facing trial on corruption charges.

He will run for the main opposition National Party (KMT), which ruled Taiwan from the 1940s until 2000, the party's chairman announced.

Mr Ma, 56, is known for having a conciliatory position on the strained relations between China and Taiwan.

Mr Ma pledged to strengthen the island's economy and improve cross-border tourism between China and Taiwan.

"This will be a historical mission. It is neither for myself nor my family. I am exploring prospects to better Taiwan's future," he said.

Graft charges

Mr Ma is on trial in a corruption case in which he is accused of placing $339,000 of city funds in his personal bank account while mayor of the capital.

He has denied the graft charges but resigned from his position as chairman of KMT shortly after they were announced.

If convicted, he faces at least seven years' jail. Prosecutors have asked for leniency, however, because of his co-operation with the investigation.

Mr Ma will run against a candidate from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to be chosen on 12 May.

President Chen Shui-bian is stepping down amid declining popularity and has recently been hit by a series of corruption scandals.


SEE ALSO
Taiwan opposition leader on trial
03 Apr 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan opposition leader resigns
13 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Taipei mayor admits expense error
15 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan mayor quizzed over fund
14 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Taiwan
02 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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