Thousands rally in Taiwan for president to quit

CHANGHUA, Taiwan - Thousands of people rallied in central Taiwan today, marking the third straight weekend of protests calling for President Chen Shui-bian to resign over scandals involving his family and senior aides.

The demonstration in the city of Changhua, roughly 150 km south of Taipei, came a day after several thousands of people gathered in the capital to support Chen, whose public approval ratings have sunk to all-time lows amid relentless pressure from the opposition.

Holding placards, honking air horns and waving Taiwan flags, the crowd today chanted slogans for Chen to quit.

Members of the main opposition Nationalist Party kicked balls to knock down drawings of Chen's family members, including wife Wu Shu-chen and son-in-law Chao Chien-ming.

Wu has been accused of accepting millions of Taiwan dollars of department store gift vouchers. Chao has been detained since late May on suspicion of insider trading, and prosecutors last week rejected his lawyers' second appeal for bail.

Chao and Wu have denied any wrongdoing.

Arguing that Chen is not fit to rule, the Nationalists and their allies launched a so-called "recall" motion in parliament last week which would authorise a referendum on whether or not Chen should remain in office.

According to Taiwan law, Wednesday will be the last day for Chen to respond to the motion.

- REUTERS

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