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President to meet legislative speaker on ending occupation (update)
Central News Agency
2014-03-20 10:17 PM
Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou will meet with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng Friday to discuss ways to end the ongoing protest in the Legislative Yuan's meeting chamber against the service trade pact with China, presidential spokeswoman Garfie Li said Thursday evening. The unprecedented occupation of the legislative chamber by hundreds of protesters voicing opposition to the pact and lawmakers' handling of it began late Tuesday. As of Thursday evening, there were no signs it would be coming to an end any time soon. "President Ma Ying-jeou tomorrow will convene with Vice President Wu Den-yih, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng and Premier Jiang Yi-huah to seek to restore regular operations to the Legislature and to maintain order in the meeting chamber," Li said. Legislative operations have come to a complete halt since the protesters, mostly students, broke into the chamber Tuesday evening. Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang and other party heavy weights have voiced their support for the protesters inside and around the legislative building, whose numbers are now estimated at over 2,000. Among their demands, protesters want an article-by-article legislative review of the cross-strait service trade pact. Lawmakers from the ruling party had pushed through an initial review of the pact on Monday. The government maintains that the pact, signed in last June but not yet endorsed, is vital to Taiwan's future economic development. Li said: "President Ma has been affirmative of the students' enthusiasm and concerns over public issues like the service trade agreement, as well as the motive behind their actions." "However, democracy and rule of law are what the Republic of China can be proud of in the international community and on which the government should be completely unshakable," Li quoted the President as saying. Earlier in the day, Wang said in a statement that he and all lawmakers have "heard the voices of the protesting students, and as the head of the nation's highest legislative organization, it is his duty to restore the operation of the Legislature as soon as possible." Wang said "he has tried, through every possible communication and coordination channels, to seek a solution to the situation and to answer the diversified opinions of the students and other members of the public." Friday's meeting is likely to be watched closely because in addition to the protest, a district court ruled on Wednesday that Wang can keep his membership in the ruling Kuomintang, chaired by President Ma. The party had attempted to strip his membership in September on allegations that he had used his position to try to influence prosecutors' investigation into alleged misconduct by an opposition party lawmaker. (By Keven Huang & Bear Lee)
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