Thu, Aug 03, 2006 - Page 3 News List

PFP initiates `impeachment' drive

MOTION STARTED Party legislators said the president was no longer fit to rule, citing three reasons, and that they hoped to win the support of DPP legislators

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

People First Party (PFP) legislators yesterday launched a drive to impeach President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), saying they had three reasons to justify their belief that Chen's continued leadership would jeopardize the nation.

The legislators made the comments at a press conference held to announce the proposal.

"We are confident that more than half of all legislators will put their names on the proposal, which will make it an official motion to be reviewed in the next legislative session," said Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), who is also director of the PFP's policy research center.

The next session will start on Sept. 19.

According to the Constitution, if the motion wins the support of at least two-thirds of the legislature and is also upheld after being presented to the Constitutional Court, the president will be relieved of his duty.

Chen, who is struggling with low approval ratings in the wake of a spate of allegations of corruption scandals involving his in-laws, survived a recall vote launched by pan-blue camp in late June.

The recall vote failed because the pan-blue camp, which holds 112 of the legislature's 221 seats, only gained the support of seven independent legislators, and therefore failed to meet the two-thirds threshold.

Chang said that it would be easier for the impeachment motion to pass because the vote would be by secret ballot.

"With a secret vote, we hope that pan-green legislators will be able to vote using their morality and conscience rather than sticking to the party line," Chang said.

PFP legislative caucus whip Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said that three incidences had made Chen unqualified for the presidency -- he had embezzled funds from the Presidential Office, had lied to the public over and over again, causing people to lose confidence in him, and had manipulated public resources for personal gain.

The PFP's statement said that nearly 90 percent of the public had expressed resentment toward Chen, which put the nation in a dangerous situation.

"There is no way to solve the crisis of confidence in the nation's leader without replacing him," Lu said.

An amendment to the Constitution in 2004 repealed a regulation that restricted the legislature to being able to impeach a president only if he or she had been charged with having committed an act of rebellion or treason.

However, as the legislature hasn't cancelled the restriction stipulated in the "Law Governing Legislatures' Exercise of Power" (立法院職權行使法), this could cause disputes over the legitimacy of an impeachment motion.

KMT legislative caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said that the KMT caucus would meet to decide whether to support the PFP's impeachment motion, as caucus members were divided over the issue.

Democratic Progressive Party legislative caucus whip Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said she didn't see any new ideas in the PFP's motion compared with the pan-blue camp's June recall motion.

"The proposal is nothing but old cliches filled with the idea of `political struggle.' I don't think the public or the pan-green camp will find it very persuasive," she said.

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