Mon, Apr 09, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Wu seeks to end Ma-Wang spat

HEALING THE TROOPS A meeting likely to be held before the end of the month with Lien Chan present as mediator will attempt to mend the divisions ailing the party

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung, left, and acting chairman Chiang Pin-kung, pray at a ceremony in Taipei yesterday to celebrate Buddha's 2551st birthday.

PHOTO: CNA

Pledging to make cooperation between former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) his priority, newly elected party chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said yesterday that a Ma-Wang meeting would be arranged soon.

To heal the problematic relationship, Wu will invite former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) to serve as mediator in the upcoming meeting, the new chairman said.

"The last chairmanship election had a somewhat negative impact due to the fierce competition between Wang and Ma. I hope the two would not hold any resentment against each other so that the party can be really united," Wu said while attending a Buddhist event at the 228 Memorial Park.

The meeting is likely to be held by April 26, before Lien leaves for China to attend an economic forum with Chinese Communist Party officials.

The last meeting between Lien, Wang and Ma on the issue of presidential nominations was held on Feb. 16. It did not lead to a resolution on the issue.

Although Wang slammed the party's primary process and announced last week that he would not join the KMT's presidential primary, Wu said he would continue the negotiation efforts and try to persuade the two to invite the other to become the vice presidential candidate if one is nominated as KMT's presidential candidate.

In response to Wang's call for Wu to refrain from further amending party regulations so that only members convicted at a third trial would be suspended from the party, Wu said that it was a decision that needed to be made by all party members.

"We will have more exchanges on the issue. I believe that KMT members are friendly, wise people," he said yesterday.

In order to allow him to run in the party's primary, the KMT removed the "black gold exclusion clause" from its regulations after Ma was indicted on corruption charges. The KMT is expected to further relax its regulations when it holds its party congress in June.

Ma shrugged off Wang's criticism yesterday and echoed Wu's remarks.

"Any issue can be discussed in democratic politics. Whether or not party regulations should be amended is a decision that belongs to party delegates ... I am simply a party member now," he said yesterday during a visit to Pingtung County.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) yesterday issued a letter of congratulation to Wu for his election as KMT chairman on Saturday.

"With congratulations on your election, I sincerely hope that the two parties will continue our joint efforts to push for stable and peaceful cross-strait relations," the statement said.

In response, Wu issued a statement promising to continue efforts to promote cross-strait exchanges and improve cross-strait relations, said Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭), director of the KMT's Mainland Affairs Division.

Hu issued a congratulatory statement to Ma two years ago when he was elected as party chairman, Chang added.

Worrying that the KMT could further revise its party regulations to ensure Ma's presidential candidacy, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) called on the party not to make such a move, which he said could be divisive.

Wang, who skipped the KMT presidential primary, has not yet given up on getting the party's nomination as Ma could be disqualified from the presidential race if found guilty by the court.

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