Fri, Jul 23, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Pan-blue lawyers concede defeat

FALLING SHORT Lawyers for the opposition said that the number of disputed ballots was not sufficient to change the outcome of the election

REUTERS , TAIPEI

Pan-blue camp lawyers yesterday conceded that the vote recount would not give them victory, but hoped that the courts would call new polls because of fraud they claim was committed as part of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) election victory in March.

Chen beat Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) by 0.2 percent, or 29,518 out of 13 million votes cast, a day after Chen was lightly wounded in an assassination attempt.

Lien said the shooting may have been staged to win sympathy votes and has filed two lawsuits to overturn Chen's victory and seek a new election.

"We have absolute confidence in the job we are doing and we will let the numbers speak for themselves and let the court make a final decision," pan-blue lawyer Lee Tsung-teh (李宗德) said.

The lawyers said a vote recount completed in May had narrowed the difference to 21,863, with 40,327 disputed ballots awaiting a final ruling by the High Court, expected by September.

The High Court has called lawyers from both sides to a meeting this Monday to discuss the lawsuit seeking to nullify Chen's victory, and to set a hearing for the second suit, which seeks a new poll, for next Friday.

The opposition lawyers said that the disputed votes alone would not be enough to reverse the outcome, but added that they had found nearly 20,000 ballots that did not match voter registration lists, suggesting fraud.

"There were what we classified as ghost ballots, lost ballots and stolen ballots," lawyer Jaclyn Tsai told a news conference.

In many cases, the number of votes cast exceeded the number of eligible voters, the lawyers said. They said that various other irregularities had been found in 99 percent of voting booths.

"People should be able to trust the outcome of the election. But so many things went wrong in this election," Tsai said.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the recount has not found signs of vote-rigging and that the outcome would not be reversed.

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