President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday announced that he will take part in the pan-green march in Taipei on Saturday along with an expected 100,000 supporters, saying he hopes everyone will once again show their spirit of defending Taiwan that was demonstrated in the 228 Hand-in-Hand rally.
"After March 20, the endless protests launched by the pan-blue camp on Ketagalan Boulevard have mired Taiwanese society into hatred and confrontation and have lacerated people's emotion," Chen said.
"We hope this march can bring democracy and joy back to Ketagalan Boulevard and let `love, peace and consolidation' become the future mainstream of Taiwan," he said.
"In order to highlight such a belief, I'm willing to join in the massive march together with everyone and go all-out fighting for happiness for 23 million people," Chen said.
Chen announced his decision in a speech to the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Central Standing Committee yesterday.
This will be the first march in which Chen takes part since the assassination attempt against him on March 19.
Over the past three weeks, Chen said that he has campaigned in all 27 constituencies in Taiwan, focusing on winning a majority in the legislature in the elections.
"I've been stressing that this goal is even more important than my re-election victory because the setback and boycott of the pan-blue lawmakers during the past four years has obstructed the country's reform and progress," he said.
"With only 11 days left, we have to unite the power of all the people to show our will and resolution to guard Taiwan, just like what we accomplished on Feb. 28 when over 2 million people formed a great wall of democracy by joining hands from the south to the north of the island," Chen said.
`We cannot lose'
"We cannot lose to the pan-blue camp," he added.
DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said that the DPP will mobilize at least 100,000 supporters living in the north and center of the country to join in the march and create a victory atmosphere for the election.
As for where the president will join the parade and how the his security will be dealt with, Lee said that the DPP will announce the details on Friday.
Meanwhile, Chen said that the legislative campaign have entered the homestretch, which is also the critical moment in which vote-buying can occur.
Chen said that he has asked the law-enforcement agencies to step up the government's crackdown on vote-buying without regard to political affiliations.
"Our candidates have to adhere to the highest standards," Chen said.