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Taiwan President Quits as Party Head, Reshuffles Cabinet

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou bows after announcing his resignation from the Kuomintang (KMT) party chairman position during the party's central standing committee in Taipei, December 3, 2014.

Taiwan's president has stepped down as head of the ruling Nationalist Party and reorganized his cabinet following heavier than expected losses in last week's local elections.

President Ma Ying-jeou formally resigned as party chairman Wednesday, saying he should "take the biggest responsibility" for the electoral loss.

"During this election, our party faced a very frustrating defeat. As the chairman of the party, I would like to apologize to all our supporters, our party's pioneers and founding members. I am ashamed that I have disappointed everyone," said Ma.

The losses have also prompted President Ma to revamp his cabinet. The president's office on Wednesday said Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo would become the island's new prime minister. Mao will replace Jiang Yi-huah, who resigned last week.

The Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang, lost the top jobs in nine cities and counties, including its stronghold in the capital, Taipei. The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which ruled Taiwan from 2000 to 2008, picked up seven of the seats.

The results suggest voters are unhappy with Taiwan's slowing economy and President Ma's pursuit of stronger economic ties with mainland China.

The losses will hurt the Nationalist Party's odds of holding the presidency in 2016, when Ma's second and final term as president expires.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing claims the island as part of its territory and views it as a breakaway province that will someday be reunited with the mainland.

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