Taiwan's president has agreed to demands for an independent investigation into an election-eve shooting that slightly wounded him and his vice president. His political opponents say the shooting was staged to get sympathy for President Chen Shui-Bian, who won the March election by a slim margin. Since the March shooting, rumors and accusations have been flying in Taiwan: Was President Chen Shui-Bian himself involved in what appeared to be an assassination attempt?
To answer the questions, Mr. Chen announced he is establishing an independent commission headed by a top government investigator. A spokesman for the president says he hopes the investigation will end the rumors and accusations stemming from the incident. The president's main opponent in the March election, Lien Chan, still insists the alleged assassination attempt was a ploy by Mr. Chen's party to win last minute votes based on sympathy.
President Chen won the election with fewer than 30,000 votes out of nearly 13 million ballots cast.
Analysts say the new commission lacks authority and is not likely to advance the inquiry or settle the controversy.
"The problem is the committee itself does not have the judicial or investigative power," said Political Scientist Philip Yang of National Taiwan University. "Probably they will still have to ask the police office to come up with further investigation."
Police have conducted a lengthy investigation, but no one has been arrested for the shooting, in which Mr. Chen and his vice president, Annette Lu, were slightly injured. The police admit they have no suspects and failed to protect evidence.
President Chen previously ruled out an independent probe with complete investigative authority, and his opponents in the National Assembly are threatening to set up a more powerful commission of their own.
President Chen chairs Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, which has traditionally favored Taiwan's independence from mainland China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
The several months of his second term in office have been clouded by the controversy surrounding the shooting incident and escalating tensions with Beijing.