Fri, Apr 16, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Thousands could attend inauguration

DIPLOMATIC ALLIES In addition to the chiefs of state of 13 of the nation's allies, a total of 500,000 supporters will be invited to attend the ceremony on Ketagalan Blvd

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Five hundred thousand supporters, along with 13 chiefs of state from Taiwan's diplomatic allies, as well as former chairwoman of the American Institute in Taiwan Therese Shaheen will take part in President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) inauguration ceremony on May 20, senior Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials said yesterday.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) yesterday confirmed that the party plans to invite 500,000 supporters to join the inauguration ceremony, which will be held in a "democratic carnival" style on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office as well as at the nearby 228 Peace Memorial Park and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

According to Lee, 13 heads of state from Taiwan's 26 diplomatic allies have accepted Chen's invitation, while Shaheen, who recently stepped down form her post, has also been invited.

"After the March 19 assassination attempt on President Chen occurred, leaders of our diplomatic allies have all called to express their concern. In return, President Chen has personally phoned them to extend invitations for his inauguration," Lee said.

Lee said the area in front of the Presidential Office could accommodate some 200,000 people, while CKS Memorial Hall and 228 Peace Memorial Park could house up to 300,000 people who will be grouped for participation.

To stage the huge inaugural celebration, the Presidential Office has asked the Taipei City Government to reserve the use of Ketagalan Boulevard for the national event for five days from May 18 to May 22.

The Taipei City Government, which has been troubled in the past few weeks by weekend demonstrations staged by pan-blue supporters in front of the Presidential Office, has agreed to reserve the road for the inauguration, quashing the pan-blue camp's plan to hold another protest against Chen's inauguration on the same day.

The spokesperson for the Taipei City Government, Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), yesterday said that "because the inauguration ceremony is a national event in nature, the city government will issue the permit for use of the road."

Lee yesterday said that the Presidential Office will deliver a total of 230,000 invitations to supporters, who could register with the DPP's officials to participate in the inauguration ceremony, which is restricted to invitation holders.

"The inaugural celebrations will be held in a `democratic carnival' style, similar to that of the 228 Hand-in-Hand Rally, in which participants will be grouped so that the organizer can monitor the order of the event," Lee noted.

Lee also announced that transportation will be offered to supporters.

In addition to inviting the heads of state of its allies, Lee said opposition leaders were also invited, including Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

Lien and Soong have previously said they would decline the invitation to attend Chen's inauguration.

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