Political frictions easing after election in Taiwan

Nationalists drop demand

deal reached on recount


TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The opposition Nationalist Party dropped yesterday its demand that Taiwan's military be allowed to vote again after a disputed presidential election a week ago, making it nearly certain that President Chen Shui-bian will be sworn in May 20 for another four-year term.

Taiwan's stock market soared as nine days of political turmoil appeared to have ended with the main political parties reaching an understanding on many of the issues that have divided them since a shooting incident involving the president hours before the election.

The market jumped 5.6 percent, as many stocks leaped the maximum 7 percent allowed by the rules. Taiwan's currency also rebounded, while the prices of government bonds fell as investors decided that they no longer needed such safe investments as calm returned.

With political frictions fading, Chen is expected to speak out soon to allay concerns by the United States and China that he might seek a more confrontational relationship with the government in Beijing to increase Taiwan's informal independence from the mainland.

Chen's Democratic Progressive Party, the Nationalists and the Nationalist-affiliated People First Party reached a rough consensus yesterday to go ahead with a court-supervised recount of the ballots cast March 20, though questions remain about procedures. Chen won the initial count on Election Day by 29,000 votes out of 13 million cast.

Completing a recount could take a week, as the sides want judges to supervise the checking of every ballot, as well as voter registration documents and other paperwork.

Su Chi, senior spokesman for the Nationalists, said his party was no longer pressing for another round of voting by members of the military and police who had been unable to vote because they had been placed on alert after the shooting.

The Nationalists contended that the alert prevented up to 200,000 from voting. Chen and the Defense Ministry said the alert had had no effect, because staggered shifts had made it possible for servicemen and police to vote.

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