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Opposition's second election suit rejected
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-30 22:09

Taiwan's high court yesterday rejected the opposition's second lawsuit to nullify the highly disputed March 20 "presidential" votes which saw the re-election of Chen Shui-bian.

Presiding Judge Cheng Ya-ping announced the opposition's demand was overruled because no systematic fraud was found.

The opposition can appeal the decision within the next 20 days, she was quoted as saying by Taiwan media.

The ruling came after the court rejected a separate Kuomintang (KMT) petition in November and upheld Chen's controversial victory.

Chen won a second four-year term by a razor-thin 0.2 per cent margin following an election-eve shooting that slightly injured him and his running mate, Annette Lu.

Opposition challenger Lien Chan, also chairman of the KMT, has alleged the mysterious shooting might have been staged to cause a swell of sympathy votes for Chen of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

The opposition launched its first legal bid to annul the result of the elections and demand a full vote recount on March 29, which was rejected by the high court on November 4.

The opposition has appealed the decision to the island's "supreme court," arguing the high court had failed to thoroughly investigate election irregularities.

In yesterday's case filed by Lien on April 5, the opposition sought to nullify the whole election and hold a new vote.

Opposition attorneys had alleged that the election was tarnished by widespread vote-rigging and other irregularities.

They also accused the "central election commission" of violating the law by not suspending the election after security forces were put on alert following the shooting, which prevented members of the military from casting their ballots.

The new verdict drew anger from the KMT-led opposition yesterday as dozens of protesters scuffled with police outside the courthouse.

Lawmaker Chiu Yi from the opposition People First Party, the KMT's ally, said "the ruling shows Taiwan's judicial system is manipulated by politics."

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