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Taiwan President Denies Corruption Charges


As protests mount in Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian has appeared on national television to defend himself two days after he was implicated in a corruption scandal.

Thousands of people rallied in the capital Taipei Sunday demanding President Chen Shui-bian's resignation.

Protests have erupted across Taiwan after government prosecutors Friday indicted Mr. Chen's wife and three former presidential aides for embezzling more than $400,000 from a diplomatic fund.

Prosecutors said there was evidence that President Chen was also involved, but because of presidential immunity he cannot be charged, until his term ends in May 2008.

In a televised speech Sunday, President Chen denied the charges. He said he has nothing to hide, and is prepared to face an investigation.

He also apologized to the public and to his own party for the political turmoil caused by the scandal, but said he would only resign if convicted of corruption.

Opposition parties led by the nationalist Kuomintang have said they intend to file another recall motion before parliament later this week.

Mr. Chen's Democratic Progressive Party and its allies in parliament have been able to block two previous motions, the most recent one in October. The opposition is hoping that enough D.P.P. members will vote against the president this time to force an island-wide referendum to determine Mr. Chen's future. The Taiwan Solidarity Union Party of former President Lee Teng-hui, a former DPP ally, has said it will vote for the new motion.

This is the latest political trial faced by the once-popular President Chen. His wife was cleared last month of allegations that she accepted vouchers from a Japanese department store in exchange for political favors. His son-in-law was indicted in June for insider trading.

President Chen has been the island's president since 2000.

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