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Taiwan's Legislature to Consider Motion to Recall President


Taiwan's legislature has taken a first step toward a possible referendum to recall President Chen Shui-bian, who has come under fire for corruption allegations involving his family.

A group of protesters demanded President Chen Shui-bian's resignation outside Taiwan's legislature Monday.

Inside, lawmakers agreed to hold a special session starting Tuesday to consider an opposition motion on holding a referendum to recall the island's leader.

President Chen has come under pressure to resign following corruption scandals involving his family. Police detained his son-in-law last month on suspicion of insider trading, while Mr. Chen's wife has been accused of accepting shopping vouchers as gifts. Both deny the allegations.

The opposition alliance holds a slim majority in the legislature. But analysts say it is unlikely to get the two-thirds majority needed to pass the motion. To do that, the opposition would need the support of 10 independent lawmakers and at least 25 lawmakers from Mr. Chen's Democratic Progressive Party.

James Soong, chairman of the opposition People First Party, urged lawmakers to work together and decide on the issue in the current legislative session, which ends June 30.

President Chen has not been directly linked to the scandals. But his popularity ratings have fallen because of them.

Thousands of people marched in the capital Taipei the past two Saturdays calling for his resignation. The opposition says more such rallies will be held until President Chen steps down.

Many in the opposition and many voters have become unhappy with President Chen's handling of the economy and his hawkish stance toward Beijing. Mainland China considers the self-governed Taiwan part of its territory. Critics say Mr. Chen has damaged relations with China, while failing to strengthen the economy.