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DPP retains Lu as acting chair

Party to hold January 15 by-election for new head

DPP retains Lu as acting chair

In a dramatic reversal, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday agreed to remain as acting chairperson of the governing Democratic Progressive Party, pending the convention of a by-election to replace former chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), during the course of a regular meeting of the party's Central Standing Committee.

Speaking to reporters after the lengthy two and a half hour meeting, DPP Secretary-General Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) stated that "regarding the item of 'the requested resignation of Acting Chairperson Annette Lu,' central standing committee members in attendance agreed to ask Annette Lu to continue to act as interim chairperson."

Lee said the decision was made in the belief that "in the current moment of difficulty for the party," its members should work together to overcome hardship and "based on the schedule, smoothly carry out electoral work for the by-election for the chairperson for the benefit of party unity and reform."

The DPP secretary-general and DPP Culture and Information Department Director Cheng Wen-tsan declined to discuss in detail the course of the meeting.

Before deciding to retain Lu, the DPP policy-making body resolved to set January 15 as the date for the by-election of a new chairperson by party members.

Lu had accepted appointment by the same committee December 7 to be interim chairperson in the wake of Su's resignation. The former presidential secretary-general and ex-Taipei County commissioner had resigned to take political responsibility for the DPP's defeat in city and county commissioner elections December 3.

However, Lu suddenly issued a statement Monday declaring her intention to resign in apparent protest at criticism from other party leaders, notably over a statement in which she claimed to be "acting as caretaker of the DPP on behalf of President Chen."

Lu was also apparently disgruntled over the lack of explicit expression of support for her decision by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and asserted that the DPP was not prepared to engage in "genuine" reform.

For his part, President Chen issued a statement Tuesday evening that denied any personal considerations in his decision not to intervene in the governing party's personnel affairs, reaffirmed that the party had a tradition of democratic procedures and autonomy, and urged an end to speculation that the selection of Lu as acting chairperson "was an extension of his will."

Speaking before the meeting, Presidential Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) commented that "in this time of difficult for the party, selfless unity is our only choice.

"If everyone in the party unites selflessly, reform will not be impossible," added Yu, who is widely considered a candidate for the by-election.

According to Lee, Lu had submitted, through an aide, a written request to resign the interim chairpersonship, and was not expected to attend yesterday's meeting.

During a funeral service for an organ donor, a college student who died in a motorcycle accident yesterday morning, Lu praised the student's selflessness and pointedly criticized "people in power" for being "short-sighted" and only being concerned with "immediate interests."

However, the vice president canceled her previous schedule and arrived to attend the meeting just before it began at 1:30 p.m. and served as its convener.

Upon convening the meeting, Lu asked the Central Standing Committee to deal first with the matter of her resignation.

However, the majority of the Central Standing Committee decided after extended discussion to deal first with the issues already on the agenda before turning to deliberate the question of whether to accept Lu's resignation.

Besides listening to a report by Interior Minister Su Chia-chyuan on the results of efforts to maintain public order during the December 3 elections, the committee

Annette Lu decides to remain as acting DPP chair; election for replacement set for January

approved a proposal submitted by the party secretariat on the schedule and procedure for the election of a new full chairperson.

According to DPP Secretary-General Lee Yi-yang, stated that since there are two years and five months remaining in Su's term, a direct by-election of a new chairperson by all party members is required by Article 15 of the party's charter.

Su resigned immediately after the DPP suffered a severe setback in city and county commissioner elections December 3.

In the wake of the passage of the procedure by the Central Standing Committee, Lee stated that the party would officially announce today that the by-election will be held January 15 with the results to be officially announced January 18.

Candidates will be required to register between December 16-20. The Central Standing Committee will vet the qualifications of candidates in its scheduled meeting next Wednesday and hold a lottery to choose candidacy numbers the following day.

Lee stated that since a voting date too close to the beginning of the lunar new year, which begins January 28, the Central Standing Committee decided to advance the proposed voting date for party members a week from January 22 to January 15 and that the identity of the winner will be officially announced January 18.

Lee added that the CSC instructed the DPP Culture and Information Department to take charge of organizing a series of public television debates between the contenders before the January 15 polling date.

After the time for the by-election had been set, the Central Standing Committee discussed the matter of Lu's proposed resignation.

During an "intense" discussion in which Lu's eyes reportedly watered, several members urged Lu to remain in her post. DPP Legislator Chou Ching-yu (周清玉) told reporters that Lu had asked that the resignation issue be settled first so that she could then leave, but that, after dealing with the other issues on the agenda, the committee agreed without objections to ask her to remain in office pending the by-election.

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) related after the meeting that Lu had been persuaded by members to withdraw her resignation.

Lu left the meeting with a smile and said only that she had "accepted the good intentions of the Central Standing Committee."

DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi, who did not attend the meeting, told reporters that it would be positive if the "misunderstanding" between Chen and Lu ended and noted that if Lu carried out her duties as acting chairperson, "it would be positive" for the party.

"But I hope this decision is final and that we will not see another wave of resignation and controversy," added Lee, a lawmaker in the DPP's Welfare Country faction.

Contemporary Monthly Editor-in-Chief Chin Heng-wei (金�筊m) told The Taiwan News that Lu decided to remain as acting chairperson "to resist the president" and stated that there was a "collective effort" by some DPP leaders to keep Lu as chairperson.

However, Chin commented that the decision to delay discussion of the issue until after the selection of a clear date for the by-election indicated that there was an "opposition" to Lu in the Central Standing Committee.