Mon, Nov 26, 2001 - Page 1 News List

KMT protesters urge cooperation

PLEA Hundreds turned out for a protest yesterday to urge the KMT and the ruling DPP to set aside their differences and cooperate to turn the ailing economy around

REUTERS , TAIPEI

KMT legislative candidates Chen Hsueh-fen, left, and Chen Horng-chi, right, raise the hands of actors wearing masks of President Chen Shui-bian, second left, and KMT Chairman Lien Chan, in a demonstration outside the Presidential Office yesterday urging conciliation between the two parties.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

As Taiwan counts down to election day, a group of protesters yesterday called for a post-poll coalition between the ruling DPP and the opposition KMT to break the legislative gridlock and save the economy.

Impersonators of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), walked down a red carpet outside the Presidential Office for a conciliation handshake, escorted by the two KMT candidates who organized the protest.

The candidates urged the DPP and the KMT to set aside their enmity and cooperate to save the nation's economy, which has plunged into recession with unemployment climbing to record levels.

"KMT-DPP cooperation to save Taiwan," the candidates, Chen Horng-chi (陳鴻基) and Chen Hsueh-fen (陳雪芬), chanted as they flanked the impersonators and raised their clasped hands. The four were mobbed by dozens of photographers and television camera crews.

Chen, who ended 55 years of KMT rule after winning last year's presidential poll, has sent up trial balloons lately, offering to share power with opposition parties in a broadbased post-election coalition government.

Opposition leaders have cold-shouldered Chen's reconciliation overtures, insisting the party with the most number of seats in parliament should form the new Cabinet.

Yesterday's protest was seen by analysts as a sign of an emerging rift in the ranks of the KMT, who suspect the DPP plans to poach its legislators after the elections.

Beating gongs and drums, a convoy of 400 cars stretching several kilometers drove to the Presidential Office and blew their horns in a show of support for political reconciliation between the KMT and the DPP.

"We hope the two parties set aside their enmity to save Taiwan's economy," protest leader Chen Hsueh-fen said.

Riot police armed with clubs and shields stood by and barbed-wire barricades were set up on streets leading to the Presidential Office.

No violence was reported.

On Saturday, about 1,500 flag-waving protesters marched through the capital, calling for the KMT to merge with their splinter parties to help its chances of recapturing the presidency in 2004.

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