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The BBC's Jill McGivering in Taipei
"This is a time of great excitement and uncertainty"
 real 28k

The BBC's Jill McGivering and Adam Brookes
report from Taipei and Beijing
 real 28k

Sunday, 19 March, 2000, 11:36 GMT
Taiwan enters new political era
Taiwan elections
Scenes of jubilation after voters ousted the ruling party
Taiwan's president elect Chen Shui-bian is beginning the task of building a new government after ousting the ruling Nationalist Party for the first time in half a century.

On Saturday, the Taiwanese people defied threats from China and voted for the pro-independence party, which defeated both the ruling nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Lien Chan and independent James Soong.

Police guard the home of outgoing president Lee Teng-hui
Police guard the home of outgoing president Lee Teng-hui
Outgoing Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui announced on Sunday he would step down from his position as KMT chairman in September in the wake of his chosen successor's failure at the polls.

Earlier on Sunday, police used water cannon and baton charges as they clashed with about 3,000 supporters of Mr Soong who blame Mr Lee for a split in the KMT vote after their candidate's expulsion from the party.

Dialogue offer

Mr Chen said he wanted to build a constructive dialogue with Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a province.

During the election campaign, China threatened military action if voters chose Mr Chen of the Democratic Progressive Party.

President Clinton said the election of a new leader in Taiwan was a fresh opportunity for the island to start peace talks with mainland China.

Mr Clinton expressed Washington's support for any move that promoted stability in the region.

In an early reaction to the result, Beijing said it was willing to talk, but only with those advocating the one-China principle.

'Independent sovereignty'

Mr Chen rejected as unacceptable China's "one country, two systems" formula for reunification and said Taiwan would not follow in the steps of Hong Kong and Macau.

"We should insist on Taiwan's independent sovereignty," he said.

One of the BBC's correspondents in Beijing, Adam Brookes, says the government's response has been muted and restrained.

Historical shift

He said analysts had predicted Beijing's policy would be one of "wait and see" and said they would probably demand that Mr Chen does not make any overt moves of independence.

The BBC's correspondent in Taipei, Jill McGivering, says the people are struggling to make sense of the historic political shift, after voting in an opposition party president for the first time in the island's recent history.

Tens of thousands fill the streets
Tens of thousands fill the streets
She says now the young opposition forces have to start the slow process of building a new presidency and the political map will take many months to withdraw.

There are reports that Mr Chen has announced that he wants Nobel laureate Lee Yuan-tseh to be prime minister.

The country's new vice-president is Annette Lu, a former political prisoner and Mr Chen's running mate in the election.

Mrs Lu is a magistrate who has been at the forefront of the campaign against corruption in Taiwan.

She received a 12-year prison sentence in 1979 for being one of the organisers of Taiwan's first mass opposition protest.

Correspondents say there is a tense wait for the stock market to open on Monday morning as stability is the key concern for the business community in Taiwan.

There was anxiety in the run-up to the election when analysts began to predict that Mr Chen might win.

The election was a closely-fought race, with Mr Chen's share of the vote only 3% ahead of James Soong, who had broken from the ruling party to stand against it.

Results of the election showed the Nationalist Party's candidate, Vice-President Lien Chan, trailing in third place.

Hundreds of angry members of the Nationalist Party surrounded the house of outgoing president Lee Teng-hui demanding his resignation as party chairman.

Mr Lien said that he had "failed" and apologised to voters for not working hard enough.

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See also:

19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Lee Teng-hui accepts election blame
19 Mar 00 | Business
Taiwan market jitters
19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
In Pictures: Taiwan election
19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Milestone in China-Taiwan ties
19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan media greet victory for democracy
18 Mar 00 | Taiwan Election
China: No independence for Taiwan
18 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan's man of the people
18 Mar 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
China's pugnacious patriotism
18 Mar 00 | Media reports
Taiwan victory speech
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