Wed, Mar 24, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Talks on recount end in deadlock

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Negotiations on a recount were deadlocked yesterday after the pan-blue camp insisted the president issue an emergency decree to allow a recount to proceed.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said any recount would have to be the result of legal amendments.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) told President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday to issue the decree. Wang said the decree was needed so that all ballots could be collected and recounted, and so that a committee could be formed to investigate Friday's attempted assassination and determine whether the emergency security measures that followed the shooting had interfered with the election.

The pan-blue caucuses and the alliance of independent lawmakers backed Wang's request, while the green camp rejected the suggestion and insisted on amendments to legislation.

Wang said cross-party negotiations to amend the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法) would only take place this morning if the Central Election Commission (CEC) did not decide last night to proceed with a recount. As of press time, the CEC had not made a decision.

Earlier yesterday the DPP caucus put forward a proposal to amend the recall law to allow a partial or complete recount for instances when the gap between the two leading candidates in the election is less than one percent of total ballots. The amendment could be applied retroactively to Saturday's election.

DPP asked that the proposal be discussed in the legislature's Procedure Committee yesterday so that it could pass the committee stage and go to second and third reading in the afternoon.

"If the proposal can get through the committee at noon, then in the afternoon we can pass the amendment in the legislative sitting and have the president promulgate it immediately, DPP caucus leader Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said.

"Then we can start the recount on Thursday at the earliest. This is the best way to proceed with a recount as demanded by the pan-blue camp," Tsai said.

The KMT and PFP caucuses already had a similar proposal waiting to be discussed by the committee, but the two caucuses yesterday opposed the DPP's proposal, saying the DPP was trying to delay the recount.

KMT caucus whip Liao Feng-te (廖風德) said, "The DPP's proposal will need to wait until Friday to get its first reading in the legislative sitting.

"It won't pass as soon as the DPP claims. The attempt to apply the amendment on this election is against the principle of `no retroactive application' of the law. The DPP is only using the proposal to delay the recount, but we demand an immediate recount," he said.

But like the DPP's plan, the blue camp's proposal said the amendment should apply to the presidential election this year.

Liao said the pan-blue camp made the proposal to make up for the lack of legal regulations regarding a recount.

He said a recount could take place as soon as the CEC decided on it, adding the CEC has the power to proceed with a recount.

The DPP caucus later rejected the claim by pointing out that there was no law that bestowed such power on the CEC.

Liao chaired the Procedure Committee session yesterday. He refused to consider the DPP's proposal and dismissed the session.

He then headed for the exit, but not before getting into a fight with DPP Legislator Lin Feng-hsi (林豐喜).

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