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Taiwan's President 'Feeling Good' Despite Wounds from Attack - 2004-03-19

Taiwan's president says he is feeling good, despite being wounded in an apparent assassination attempt, one day before the island's presidential election. The incident is likely to have a major impact on what has been a very close race.

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian said in a videotaped message Friday night that he is in good health following surgery to remove a bullet from his abdomen.

Mr. Chen was shot while riding in an open jeep through the southern city of Tainan, in a campaign parade for his re-election.

Vice President Annette Lu, who had been standing next to him in the same vehicle, was also slightly injured but said via videotape that she, too, is well.

Following Mr. Chen's release from the hospital, he was visited by rival presidential candidate Lien Chan.

Mr. Lien told reporters after the meeting that the shooting must not affect the decision of Taiwan's voters when they go to the polls Saturday.

The two candidates are engaged in an extremely close race, with the Lien campaign saying in recent ads that only one percentage point separates the two men.

Given the slim margin, National Taiwan University political science professor Philip Yang says the shooting incident could play a big role in deciding the election.

"[The] sympathy vote will definitely be a major factor in this election, because of this incident," he said.

Taiwan's national security agency has launched an investigation into the shooting.

The agency came under criticism in the hours following the incident, but President Chen said in his message that Taiwan does not have a security problem, despite what happened.

While both campaigns canceled formal campaigning after the shooting, the president's supporters crowded around his election headquarters in Taipei.

Theories among the crowd varied widely, with some suspecting a pro-Lien fanatic while others blaming China, which has long been critical of the Taiwanese president.