Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

DPP urges supporters to stay calm

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Less than 24 hours ahead of today's election, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday condemned violence amid an assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) in a campaign rally in Tainan City.

The party suspended all campaign activities immediately after the shooting.

DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), head of the party's campaign, yesterday issued three announcements regarding the incident, saying "the president and vice president have been hurt by bullets. However, they are not in a critical condition. They are both stable and alert.

"We condemn all violence and we urge all of our supporters to remain calm and pray for the health and well-being of the president and vice president. In order to stabilize society and to allow the election to be held tomorrow, we are suspending all of our campaign activities.

"We are asking our local officials, elected mayors and county commissioners to carry on the responsibilities of maintaining local social order. We urge our supporters to refrain from any kind of emotional confrontation with supporters of the other camp," Chang said.

DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said there had been no published threats against the president and the assassination attempt on the head of state was unprecedented.

Hsiao said the party's most significant effort yesterday was to prevent supporters from confronting blue-camp supporters.

"We've heard supporters of the other camp saying that it's a show and Chen has been putting on. We hope our supporters won't get into confrontations because of such remarks," Hsiao said.

All four campaign rallies planned for last night in Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taoyuan and Taipei were canceled.

DPP campaign manager Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that to "prevent any further activities that might cause further anxieties and worries for the president, and to maintain social order and harmony, we've decided to stop immediately all campaign activities. We also discourage any kind of prayer meetings."

Thousands of anxious supporters yesterday gathered at the campaign headquarters on Minsheng East Road, sounding bullhorns and shouting "A-bian Dong Suan," which is Taiwanese for "Chen get elected."

Priests and monks were invited to the headquarters to hold a prayer ceremony for Chen.

"It is really horrible if among us there is an assassin. The election has come to this point and being spoiled with this incident, it really makes a mockery of our democracy," an elder supporter said yesterday.

"We will give our utmost support to A-bian by giving him our votes tomorrow. We want the world to know Taiwan loves democracy, peace and no violence," a woman said while wiping away her tears.

Amid disappointment and worries, thousands of DPP supporters yesterday swarmed into the DPP headquarters and lingered until late last night to pray for Chen's health and re-election.

Chang told the crowd: "Don't forget our goal to keep walking the road of democracy, no matter what."

Former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) said: "Please remain calm, and do not provoke. Go home now and go to vote tomorrow. That's the best way of showing your support."

Although the party yesterday canceled campaign activities, crowds of supporters yesterday remained at the Taipei Chungshan Soccer Stadium, where a half million people were supposed to attend a rally.

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