Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) confirmed in a television interview yesterday that he will step down as party chairman next August.
In the interview with China Television Co), Lien talked about the KMT's relationship with the People First Party and he urged the formation of a new Cabinet, given the pan-blue camp won a legislative majority in the elections.
He also said that he supported party's Vice Chairman Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) bid to retain the post of legislative speaker in the Sixth Legislature and for Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) to stay as deputy speaker.
Lien's pledge echoed his pre-election statements that he would step down as chairman regardless of the outcome of the elections in accordance with party policy. KMT rules stipulate that the current chairman's term ends next August.
"Everyone must make contributions for the party to operate. I am only a volunteer, and have been for the past four to five years. It is enough. While I will be a `volunteer' forever, I plan to hand over the chairmanship in August," he said in the interview with China Television Co (CTV).
But when questioned about potential successors to the KMT chairman's job, however, Lien turned coy.
He refused to comment on whether or not he was grooming either Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) or Wang for the post, as many have speculated, saying only that the party has a great deal of political talent within its ranks.
In response to rumors that several PFP legislators are jockeying to be replace Chiang in the next legislature, Lien said that while the PFP and the KMT had not discussed "personnel" issues ahead of the elections, he supported Wang and Chiang continuing in their posts.
He would, however, be open to discussion with the PFP about potential candidates for the post should they wish to talk.
Despite the rumors, which are reflective of the rifts between the PFP and the KMT prior to and since the elections, Lien said he believes there were no barriers to the blue-camp merger, which had been planned for February.
"The merger is part of our promise to the people; we cannot lose our integrity [on this issue]," he said.
In contrast to PFP Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) recent comments that the KMT closed the door on the merger with its actions in the elections, Lien said the two parties saw eye to eye on many issues and that he and Soong have no communication problems.
He identified several common points, including his pre-election call for Chiang to become the next premier, nine domestic policies the pan-blue camp has promised to push through the legislature next session and keeping the name "The Republic of China."
Lien denied Soong's allegations that the KMT's financial problems and ideology were a drawback to a merger.
The KMT has returned most of its controversial assets to the nation already, he said, despite the government's beliefs to the contrary.
He also said there is no one in the KMT who is in favor of Taiwanese independence. Soong has previously said that several KMT members do hold such a stance and that was something the PFP could not abide ahead of a merger.