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Taiwan's President Hands Over Some Powers


Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has given up some of his major decision-making powers in response to corruption scandals involving his family.

President Chen Shui-bian handed over day-to-day decision-making on domestic issues to Taiwan's prime minister. But he retains control over foreign affairs, the military, national security and relations with neighboring China.

The move came a week after his son-in-law was arrested on suspicion of insider trading. Opposition politicians also accuse Mr. Chen's wife of receiving free vouchers from a Taipei department store.

Political scientist Emile Sheng at Taipei's Soochow University says President Chen's action is aimed at critics in his Democratic Progressive Party.

"I think President Chen's announcement last night is really aimed at appeasing the opposition within the party, hoping that by sharing power to this political elite that they will agree not to join forces with the recall movement started by the opposition party," said Sheng.

The scandals have prompted the opposition Nationalist Party to call for Mr. Chen's resignation.

Philip Yang is a political scientist at Taiwan's National University. He says at the moment, it is not likely that D.P.P. members will support the opposition's call to force Chen out of office.

"Legislators in the D.P.P. will probably for the sake of maintaining the integrity of the party in the coming elections, I think that the majority will probably just forget about this and on the contrary probably would come up with support for him," said Yang.

Both Yang and Sheng say President Chen's political future depends on whether any evidence is found linking him directly to his son-in-law's actions.

In part because of the scandals, Chen's popularity has fallen to record lows. He has two more years in office until the next presidential elections in 2008. He is constitutionally barred from running for a third term as president.

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