Taiwan opposition party urges people to boycott UN referendum


Taipei : Taiwan’s largest opposition party called on the public Monday to boycott President Chen Shui-bian’s planned referendum on UN membership for the island.

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The move by the Chinese Nationalist Party, Kuomintang (KMT), has increased the unpredictability of the March 22 presidential election because Chen wants the UN referendum to be held alongside the presidential voting.

“Referenda are holy, but this referendum has been distorted and turned into a tool to incite conflicts, so we have made the painful decision to call on voters to reject the UN referendum,” KMT chairman Wo Poh-hsiung said.

Wu also urged the central election commission to boycott the UN referendum and not become a “political tool” of Chen’s ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The UN referendum has strained Taipei-Beijing ties with Beijing warning that it is a “Taiwan independence referendum”.

China sees Taiwan as its breakaway province and threatened to recover Taiwan by force if Taipei seeks independence or indefinitely delays unification talks with Beijing.

Siding with China, major countries in the world – the US, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the European Union (EU)- have called the UN referendum provocative and unnecessary and warned it would hurt Asia-Pacific stability.

The KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou and the DPP’s Frank Hsieh are running in the March election to replace Chen, who is stepping down after serving the maximum two four-year terms.

Ma has been leading Hsieh by 10 to 15 percentage points in recent public opinion polls.