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Tens of Thousands Rally in Taipei to Demand President Chen Quit


Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, to demand the resignation of President Chen Shui-bian.

Most demonstrators dressed in red to symbolize their anger toward their leader. Many protesters also gave a "thumbs down" sign as they shouted for Mr. Chen to step down.

The main organizer of Saturday protest is Shih Ming-teh, a former chairman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which is now led by Mr. Chen.

Shih is calling for Mr. Chen to quit over a series of corruption scandals involving his family and senior officials. Mr. Chen denies any wrongdoing.

After marching through Taipei's streets, the protesters began a sit-in near the Presidential Office building, which they plan to continue until next Friday.

Local media estimated the turnout for Saturday's rally at 80,000, while organizers say as many as 200,000 took part. Shih had set a target of 200,000 to 300,000 people for Saturday's protest.

Authorities said more than 2,000 riot police were on duty to prevent violence during the rally. Police set up barbed-wire barricades to keep the protesters away from government offices.

Taiwan opposition leader Ma Ying-jeou is calling on the ruling DPP to distance itself from Mr. Chen by introducing a motion in parliament to recall him from office.

Ma's Kuomintang Party tried to pass a similar measure in June, but failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority support in parliament.

Mr. Chen was in his hometown in the southern county of Tainan, where he met with his supporters. On Friday, Mr. Chen's supporters held several rallies in Taipei and the south to counter the anti-Chen movement.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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