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Ma assumes office as KMT chairman
Updated: 2005-08-19 14:38

The 17th Party Congress of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) party in Taiwan opened in Taipei on Friday morning, as Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou formally assumed office as party chairman.

Taipei Mayor and newly elected Nationalist Party chairman Ma Ying-jeou waves the party's flag as outgoing chairman Lien Chan looks on August 19, 2005, in Taipei, Taiwan. The popular Taipei mayor took over the reins of Taiwan's leading opposition party, raising hopes among party faithful that he can reverse its battered fortunes, and improve relations with the mainland. [AP]
At a ceremony marking the KMT's leadership transition, outgoing KMT Chairman Lien Chan handed over a party flag to his successor Ma.

Delivering a farewell speech, Lien told the 1,600-strong delegates to the congress that the meeting is of great significance and will usher in a new stage for the KMT.

Lien expressed the hope that the party, under the leadership of Ma, would continue its self-reform and come back to power in Taiwan.

He said that the KMT has the responsibility to offer "another option" to the Taiwan people, which is different from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) currently in power, especially in handling the cross-Straits relations.

Taipei Mayor and newly elected Nationalist Party chairman Ma Ying-jeou gestures during a speech August 19, 2005 in Taipei. [AP]
He said his visit to the mainland in April this year was an important decision made for the interests of the Chinese nation and people.

Calling the DPP-led Taiwan authorities "incompetent", Lien said that the KMT should call forth the aspiration and enthusiasm of the Taiwan people for development and well-being and for a change of government.

As the KMT's new leader, Ma praised Lien for his contribution to the party, Taiwan people and cross-Straits exchanges.

Ma said Lien's visit to the mainland has helped ease the tension across the Taiwan Straits and create a new atmosphere for the cross-Straits relations.

Ma pledged that he would continue to push forward party reform and follow the cross-Straits policy advocated by Lien.

During the two-day congress, delegates are expected to discuss an amendment to the party constitution, approve the appointment of party vice-chairpersons, and elect members of the KMT Central Committee.

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