Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 3 News List

US Congress sends letter to Chen, Lu

CONGRATULATIONS Vice President Annette Lu said she hoped the White House would follow diplomatic protocol when the CEC certifies them the winners

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian expresses sympathy for Vice President Annette Lu and asks about her knee injury at a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

The US Congress has congratulated President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on their re-election.

The letter, dated Wednesday, states: "This is to congratulate you on your re-election as president and vice-president of Taiwan. Free and fair elections are the cornerstone to democratic government. Taiwan has exhibited true democracy. We look forward to working with your administration on a host of issues on behalf of the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan."

Lu had said earlier yesterday that the Presidential Office was expecting the US government to follow diplomatic protocol by congratulating the newly elected president when the Central Election Commission (CEC) formally announces the winner of the election today.

"We hope to receive the congratulatory message from US President George W. Bush before March 26, the day that the Central Election Commission will give certificates declaring President Chen and me the winners of the election," Lu said at a meeting with American Institute in Taiwan Director Douglas Paal yesterday morning at the Presidential Office.

"We also hope that the US government will send a special delegation, with higher-level officials than the delegation they sent four years ago, to attend the inauguration ceremony on May 20 to express its respect to the Taiwanese people's sacrifices and democratic achievements," she said.

Chen and Lu invited business leaders to a discussion yesterday about restoring social order and economic development. Lu briefed the guests about her meeting with Paal. She said that the country's people are displeased with the developments in the wake of the election. She said they are worried that the nation's achievements of the past five decades have been cast in a negative light by a few people who continue to make groundless allegations in the media, thereby damaging the image of the entire nation.

"President Chen has paid a heavy price in his political career and I have also suffered the pains of cancer, being jailed and even taking a bullet," Lu said.

The US' first reaction to the election came on Sunday, when the State Department issued a short statement to congratulate "the people of Taiwan" for having conducted a democratic election campaign and for having exercised their democratic voting rights in such large numbers. The statement did not directly mention Chen.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) have been loudly protesting the result of the election, and the US government has urged both camps to resolve the election dispute.

On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Bush administration had refrained from congratulating Chen because it was waiting for the legal process to be completed.

"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," Boucher said.

The Presidential Office said yesterday that the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法) stipulates that the CEC must formally announce the winners of the presidential election seven days after the poll was held.

"Once the commission certifies the result, the international community should respect Taiwan's legal system by making the appropriate diplomatic response to our new president and vice president," a high-ranking Presidential Office official said.

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