Friday, June 02, 2006

Taiwan President abandons powers

The Australian

Rowan Callick, China correspondent

June 02, 2006

TAIWAN President Chen Shui-bian, facing a series of scandals involving his family and aides, has diluted his control of the country and of his own party.
Mr Chen told Vice-President Annette Lu and Democratic Progressive Party chairman Yu Shi-kun on Wednesday night he would retain only his constitutional powers as president, effectively reducing his position to that of a figurehead.
Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang, one of 18 founders of the DPP, and others in the party will assume responsibility for policy-making - shifting the balance of authority in Taiwan from the presidency towards the Legislative Yuan or parliament.
In the past, the role of some prime ministers has been merely that of chief of staff to the president, but Mr Su emerges from the new dispensation as a powerful figure in his own right.
Taiwan's stock market rose slightly yesterday, partly in anticipation that relations with China will improve when the President takes a back seat.
Mr Chen will retain control of foreign and defence policies. But he said: "I will not become involved in party operations in the future, nor will I take part in election campaign activities."

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