06/19/2006, 00.00
TAIWAN
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10,000 protesters call on Chen to step down

The protesters gathered in Changhua, in the heart of the island. "The president must listen to the voice of so many people of Taiwan," said an opposition leader.

Changhua (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thousands of people yesterday gathered in Changhua, a city in the heart of the island of Taiwan, to call for the resignation of the President, Chen Shui-Bian, following corruption scandals linked to his family. The demonstrators – more than 10,000, according to organizers – marched through the streets carrying placards reading "Recall".

The crowd shouted slogans and threw footballs at posters of the president and his family. "We can't take it anymore," said James Soong Chu-yu, leader of the People First Party, during the protest. "If we allow Chen to continue his corruption, there will be no future for Taiwan's democracy. We need to have high moral standards and courage to fight corruption."

Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of Kuomintang [Nationalist Party], said: "We see Chen and we have seen the way in which he has educated and manages his family. We must launch this motion for him to quit politics or we won't be able to educate our children any longer."

Ma said 600,000 people had signed a petition, organized by his party, calling for Chen to step down. "So many people have stood up and the voice of Taiwanese people must be heard," Mr Ma said. "The president claims he had no knowledge about the scandal. You don't believe that, do you?"

The scandal overwhelming Chen started when his son-in-law, Chao Chen-ming, got involved in insider trading operations [using reserved information to condition the stock market]. However the scandal deepened when his wife, Wu Shu-chen, was accused of involvement in doubtful operations in large prestigious banks and in the appointment of company directors.

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