The US was expected to issue a statement yesterday congratulating President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) after the Central Election Commis-sion (CEC) declared 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 US President George W. Bush's administration understands the election process much better than it did right after the poll, since the challenges issued by the pan-blue camp took the legal and constitutional issues into new ground.
Over the weekend, the Bush administration issued a statement congratulating the "people of Tai-wan" for the successful election, withholding its congratulations for Chen, even though the unofficial results showed him the winner.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Monday, noted that there were "a number of decisions pending" 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 unresolved.
A State Department official told the Taipei Times last night that the administration planned to issue its congratulations after the CEC promulgated the election result with the intention of making sure the congratulations were recieved in Taipei before today's rally, to help calm the situation.