Embattled Chen vows to stay in power
Updated: 2006-10-01 08:57

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian defied rising protests calling him to resign for his family getting entangled in a series of corruption charges, saying yesterday he would stay in his office till his term ends in May 2008.

Avoiding Taipei, the biggest city in Taiwan, where Shih Ming-teh, a former chairman of Chen's own party, the DPP, is leading a massive street campaign to oust him ever since September 9, Chen went to the island second biggest city of Kaohsiung, one of his power bases, to summon support.

On Saturday, he told about a big crowd there that it is the protestersĄŻ rights to call for his resignation. The event was billed as a commemoration of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) 20th anniversary, but was widely seen as an effort by Chen to show his popularity among his supporters in TaiwanĄŻs South.

Chen made a 15-minute speech, which followed a march through the city supporting Chen. DPP organizers said more than 350,000 people took part, but police estimated the crowd at 100,000.

Chen's troubles began six months ago when allegations surfaced that his family members and inner circle used their proximity to Chen for financial gains. ChenĄŻs son-in-law remains in police custody facing further probe.

The Kaohsiung rally followed a decision by lawmakers in Taipei on Friday to vote in two weeks on whether a public referendum should be held to decide Chen's fate. The bill is expected to fail, as the opposition alliance in the legislature has difficulty to garner the required two- thirds majority votes.