Tue, Feb 22, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Ma denies attempt to oust Lien

NOT A COUP The Taipei mayor said his aggressive bid to be the next KMT chairman was not an attempt to force aside the current one, and that he supported party unity

STAFF WRITER

Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday dismissed media suggestions that his announcement of his candidacy for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship was an attempt to force current chairman Lien Chan (連戰) out of office.

Ma's announcement that he would throw his hat into the ring for the party chairman election prior to an official announcement from Lien about whether he would be seeking re-election, and while Lien was himself overseas, has led commentators to suggest that Ma was mounting a coup within the party and that this was an attempt to force Lien to retire.

Speaking with the media yesterday, Ma insisted that he had no intention of forcing Lien to retire, and that the announcement of his candidacy for the post was motivated by a desire to promote unity and reform within the party.

Ma said that he could understand the criticism that had been leveled at him, but pointed out that not every election needed to create dissent.

He said that it all depended on the attitude of the people involved.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) is another possible candidate for the chairmanship, but he has studiously avoided committing himself. Wang did not comment on rumors that senior KMT party staffers close to Lien are dissatisfied with Ma's actions, saying it was the first time he had heard such talk.

Wang said that Lien was currently disinclined to seek another term as party chairman, but prior to an official announcement being made, the party would continue to persuade him to run, if only out of respect.

This does not prevent others from throwing their hat into the ring, Wang said.

KMT Secretary-General Lin Feng-cheng (林豐正) said that Ma's actions did not give him the impression that Ma was seeking the ouster of Lien, or that he was acting too hastily. As for the rumors about senior Lien staffers being dissatisfied with Ma, Lin said that he had heard nothing along those lines.

As for Lien's attitude, Lin said that although Lien himself was disinclined to seek re-election, many people within the party hoped that he would do so. Lin suggested people await Lien's return to Taiwan tomorrow to determine his thoughts on the issue.

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