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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 14:30 GMT
Taiwan minister quits over brawl
Parliamentarian Fei Hung-tai of the Kuomintang party bows to apologise over the incident (13th March)
Both parties have now apologised over the incident
Taiwan's finance minister has resigned after a brawl between rival MPs, nine days before the island's hotly disputed presidential election.

Ho Chih-chin had accompanied members of the opposition KMT party to the campaign headquarters of the ruling DPP to investigate corruption claims.

The KMT alleged the DPP paid no rent on the Taipei building - which they deny.

A fight broke out between the rival groups as they tried to leave the building.

The DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) is trailing behind the KMT (Kuomintang) in opinion polls ahead of the 22 March elections.

High-profile victim

According to the BBC correspondent in Taipei, Caroline Gluck, the run-up to elections in Taiwan are normally heated affairs, but violence-free.

So the clash at the DPP campaign offices - the first case of any disorder ahead of this month's presidential elections - was widely reported, our correspondent adds.

Ho Chih-chin said he was resigning to take responsibility for what he called his improper behaviour.

He had accompanied several legislators from the KMT - members of the parliamentary finance committee - to the DPP's campaign headquarters.

They had alleged that the building - owned by a bank which was supervised by the finance ministry - was being unlawfully occupied, claiming that no rent had been paid.

After gaining access, they were blocked from leaving by DPP supporters.

Scuffles broke out, and about 200 riot police were called in to try to maintain order.

The lawmakers were eventually allowed to leave the scene, and were taken to a police station for questioning.

The DPP's presidential candidate, Frank Hsieh, and his aides have strongly condemned the incident.

KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou later apologised and condemned the violence - although his aides insisted his campaign team had no prior knowledge of the event.

One of the KMT legislators involved in the incident, Alex Fai, also apologised and resigned as party whip.



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