The South Korean government said yesterday it will ban the street rallies that have drawn thousands of people to either protest or support the unprecedented impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun. \nCitizens protesting the impeachment have rallied almost daily in downtown Seoul, holding candles and chanting, "Impeachment invalid!" Last weekend, pro-impeachment activists staged rival rallies. \nPolice consider the peaceful candlelight rallies illegal, but have not tried to disperse them, fearing possible violent clashes that would escalate political uncertainty in the wake of the National Assembly's unpopular March 12 impeachment vote. \nThe government said it will use police to prevent people from gathering for such rallies beginning today, when the official election campaign starts for April 15 National Assembly polls. \n"Until now, the government has focused on keeping candlelight rallies peaceful, but it plans to block such gatherings because they could affect the election," government spokesman Jung Soon-kyun said. \nThe National Election Commission asked the government on Wednesday to ban pro- and anti-impeachment rallies. By law, all rallies that could affect election results are banned during the campaign period, except speeches by candidates. \nThe People's Coalition for Participatory Democracy, a major civic group opposing the impeachment, issued a statement accusing the election watchdog of misapplying the law against its rallies. But it did not say whether it will call another large rally this weekend. \nLast Saturday, more than 100,000 people staged a sit-in in central Seoul to protest the impeachment. \nOn Sunday, 2,000 impeachment supporters also staged a sit-in in the capital's center. \nThe National Assembly impeached Roh for alleged election law violations and incompetence. Prime Minister Goh Kun has assumed Roh's duties while the Constitutional Court decides within 180 days whether to permanently unseat the president or reinstate his powers. \nThe Constitutional Court began unprecedented legal deliberations yesterday over whether to unseat Roh. \nIt was the second closed-door meeting of the nine-member court since the opposition-controlled assembly voted to impeach Roh, suspending his presidential powers. But justices discussed legal points in the case for the first time. \n"Until now, we have discussed procedural matters. Today we will actually start deliberating on the case itself," judge Choo Sun-hoe told reporters before entering the courthouse. \nAfter the session ended, Choo said the judges "discussed various issues." He refused to give details. \nThe case is the country's first-ever presidential impeachment trial, and Choo said the judges were also reviewing instances in which heads of state have been impeached overseas. \nLast week, the court summoned Roh to attend the first public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday. But the embattled leader has refused to testify in his own defense. \nDespite Roh's refusal, the court said yesterday that court regulations require it to convene a public hearing on Tuesday as scheduled to see if Roh attends. If he does not show up, the court will immediately adjourn after announcing a new date for the next hearing. \nThe new hearing will proceed regardless of Roh's attendance, court spokesman Chun Sang-bo said. \nThe court has a maximum of six months to decide whether to unseat the suspended president or dismiss the parliamentary impeachment and restore Roh's presidential powers. \nThe National Assembly needs at least six judges to uphold its vote to impeach Roh.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no