Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 1 News List

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US to issue congratulations after CEC announcement

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The US was expected to issue a statement yesterday congratulating incumbentPresident Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) after the Central Election Commissiondeclared him the winner of last Saturday's presidential election, a State

Department official told the "Taipei Times". No such statement had been received at the time of going to press.

It was not clear whether the message would come from the State Department or from the White House, but the White House is considered the most likely to issue the statement, as the Clinton White House did when Chen won the election in 2000.

Earlier in the week, the State Department indicated that it would wait until all the challenges launched by the pan-blue alliance were settled before Washington would congratulate the winner.

The decision to issue a statement yesterday is seen by some as reflecting the fact that the Bush administration now understands the election process much better than it did right after the election, since the challenges issued by the pan-blue camp took the legal and constitutional issues into new ground.

Over the weekend, in the wake of the final vote on Saturday night, the Bush administration issued a statement congratulating the “people of Taiwan”for the successful election, withholding its congratulations for Chen, even though the unofficial results showed him to be the winner.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, in his regular daily pressbriefing on Monday, noted that there were “a number of decisions pending”in Taiwan after the election that have to be settled through legal processes, and “we're just comfortable waiting for those processes to work

themselves out, and not for us to say who won, but for them to tell us who won.”

Since then, the administration has apparently decided it would issue its congratulatory statement as soon after the commission's certification of a winner as possible, even though the legal and constitutional challenges are

still unresolved.

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