KMT refiles suit for revoting
Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party has refiled a lawsuit to nullify last month's "presidential" election amid a deadlock over how a recount should proceed.
Earlier Wednesday, the KMT lawyers announced they had temporarily withdrew their demand for a new vote on grounds that it might interfere with another petition filed by the KMT last week which asked for a recount of the ballots.
On March 26, the island's "central election committee" certified the re-election of Chen Shui-bian of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) by a razor-thin margin of 0.2 per cent, or 30,000 votes out of more than 13 million ballots cast.
Lien, however, has challenged Chen's narrow victory, alleging that the March 20 election was marred by numerous voting irregularities and a record 330,000 invalid ballots that were triple the number rejected in the last "presidential" election four years ago.
He also claimed that an unexplained election-eve shooting that slightly wounded both Chen and his running mate, Annette Lu, caused a swell of sympathy votes.
Lien's lawyers filed two lawsuits with the high court -- one to invalidate Chen's victory and order a recount and another to nullify the whole election itself in order for a revote.
The second suit was revised and refiled on Wednesday night so as to remove any conflicts with the first suit over the recount.
Chou explained the KMT lawyers were originally concerned that the judge handling the re-vote petition might also order a recount as part of deciding whether a new election was needed. That meant two recounts could produce different results.
"If two recounts are done and the results are different, then that could cause big problems,'' Chou was quoted as saying.
The revised version of the re-vote petition asks that any re-count ordered as a result of their initial petition filed last week be used to bolster their arguments in their re-vote petition.
"Our new petition says that after the recount is held, the results of the recount can be used as evidence in our case for a new election,'' Chou said.
He told reporters that the opposition was also unhappy with the judge who had been assigned to the case for a new election.
Chou said the judge planned to make his own decisions about the procedures for a new election and didn't plan to consult with the parties.
Responding to the KMT complaint, the high court Thursday assigned a new judge to the case for the election nullification through a random, computerized system, the ETtoday.com reported.
Court spokesman Wen Yao-yuan reportedly said the court is also scheduled to open its second hearing next Monday on the opposition lawsuit asking for a re-tally.
The three presiding judges will consult the lawyers of the rival parties, the DPP and KMT, on recount methods and scope, according to the ETtoday.com.
Earlier, the three-member tribunal gave each side five days "to work out the procedure and method for the recount'' before they meet again.
Meanwhile, the opposition decided to mobilize around 200,000 supporters and hold another massive protest tomorrow in Taipei, said Alex Tsai, another KMT spokesman.
She said the event is aimed at collecting petition signatures calling for a referendum on whether an independent task force should be set up to investigate the mysterious shooting of Chen.
"This will be a glorious record for history,'' Tsai said about the proposed referendum.
In a related development, Therese Shaheen, the US-based chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan -- the de facto US embassy in Taipei in absence of official ties-- submitted a letter of resignation to US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
US media reports earlier said Shasheen had been expected to resign because of intense criticism for being too pro-Taiwan and failing to properly represent Washington's policy towards Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.