Thu, Jun 08, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Special session may be held next week

FULL STEAM AHEAD An agenda for an extra legislative session has not been set, but the pan-blue camp has enough signatures to start the process to recall the president

CNA , TAIPEI

An extraordinary session of the legislature could be convened next Tuesday at the earliest, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday.

Wang said that the legislature will have an informal meeting on Monday during which a decision on whether to convene an extraordinary session will be made. If an extraordinary session is held, the agenda will also have to be set, he said.

He said that both the ruling and the opposition parties had agreed that an extraordinary session was necessary and that "it is bound to be held," despite the earlier threat by the opposition that any extraordinary session would have to include discussion on its legal amendments to permit direct cross-strait links.

The previous session ended last Tuesday in chaos when the pan-green Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union could not reach agreement with the pan-blue Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) on the direct links proposal.

Many important bills, including the long-stalled arms procurement bill and a special budget for a national flood-fighting project, were left in abeyance in the last session.

Wang also said that a proposal to recall the president, after collecting 72 signatures from pan-blue lawmakers, is now valid and will set in motion a process to recall President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Chen's leadership has been cast in doubt following the detention of one of his former aides and his son-in-law for their alleged roles in corruption scandals.

On a reported plan by the opposition to adopt a no-confidence motion to topple the Cabinet in September, Wang also said: "We will handle all this according to set procedures."

He said that the Executive Yuan had already sent its plan for rewriting the electoral boundaries to the legislature, adding that whether the legislature could give its consent by September "will also depend on the decisions reached during the extraordinary session."

Wang was referring to the fact that Chen might not accept the legislature's move to topple the Cabinet and might instead dissolve the legislature, which would necessitate new legislative elections. The elections would have to be conducted under a new format following the passage of a package of constitutional amendments passed last June.

The amendments include the halving of the number of legislative seats to 113 and implementation of a "single constituency, two votes" electoral system. The latter made rewriting the electoral boundaries, or "redistribution" necessary.

According to the amended law governing the election and recall of public functionaries, the legislature should give its consent to the redistribution plan 13 months before the current legislative session expires.

If the legislature has not yet given its consent and a new legislative election is approaching, then the redistribution scheme designed by the Central Election Commission will be used, "because the status of the Constitution is higher than the law," according to the commission.

The newly elected legislators will be sworn in for four-year terms instead of the current three years, according to the latest amendments to the Constitution.

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