by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Supporters of Kuomintang presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu gathered outside the venue of the party congress which was preparing to replace her with chairman Eric Liluan Chu Saturday.
The KMT decided last week it would hold the congress to replace its candidate in the January 16 election because of her consistently low opinion poll ratings and her views about relations with China, which were deemed to have strayed too far in the direction of unification.
While over a thousand KMT delegates were reported to have signed a petition approving Chu’s candidacy, several organizations supporting Hung called for 2,000 members to show up outside the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei City during the congress Saturday afternoon.
Many turned up wearing red, waving Republic of China flags and carrying banners and placards in support of Hung. It was not immediately clear whether the protesters would reach their estimated number.
Taipei police sent in 749 officers to guard the premises because clashes were feared between Hung supporters and some of the KMT delegates, reports said.
Other groups had called on their supporters to wear black as if to turn up for the funeral of what they described as “the corrupt KMT.”
They emphasized that Hung was the only legal candidate because she had followed all the KMT selection rules and had come out as the winner in the primaries. A previous KMT special congress, held on July 19, officially nominated her as the party’s presidential candidate, so it had no right to revoke her candidacy, her supporters argued.
The groups called on their members to remain peaceful and orderly despite their strong feelings about Hung and the KMT.
Police officers from four precincts had erected barriers around the memorial hall to prevent outsiders from coming too close.
The whole congress was expected to last three hours, with speeches followed by a motion to revoke the candidate, a special Central Standing Committee session to put forward a new candidate, and then the approval of the new candidate by the full congress with a closing speech.