Taiwanese president and
Agencies World Peace WorldPeace
Friday March 19, 2004
The Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-bian, and the vice-president, Annette Lu, were today shot while campaigning the day before the country's presidential elections.
Mr Chen was shot in the stomach and Ms Annette was hit in the right knee as their motorcade drove through streets in the southern city of Tainan. Both are now in a stable condition in Chi Mei hospital.
"They are both conscious and their lives are not in danger," Mr Chen's chief of staff, Chiou I-jen, told a news conference. He also urged the public to "cool down" following the shootings.
Officials have also said that the presidential ballot will go ahead tomorrow as planned.
Mr Chen, 54, and Ms Annette, 59, were travelling in a red convertible four-wheel-drive vehicle past crowds lining the streets Tainan, which is the president's hometown.
Onlookers were cheering and setting off celebratory fireworks when the shots were fired. It is not known how many shots were fired, and no suspects have yet been arrested by police.
Lien Chan, leader of the opposition Nationalist party, expressed concern over the shootings, and has suspended campaigning activities.
The Taiwenese election race has been emotional and hotly-contested, dominated by the issue of China, Taiwan's biggest rival. While Mr Chen is pushing for a policy of independence, Mr Chan has opted for a softer approach.
The two sides split when the Communists took over the mainland in 1949, and Beijing is pressuring Taiwan to unify. Tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent years.
Mr Chen is calling for a referendum on the day of election to boost defence spending to protect against hundreds of Chinese missiles pointed at the island.
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