Taiwanese President, Vice President Shot
President Chen Shui-bian and his vice president were wounded Friday when shots were fired into their motorcade on the final day of campaigning for a landmark election and referendum that could be a turning point in Taiwan’s tense relationship with China.
Chen was shot in the stomach and Vice President Annette Lu was hit in the right knee. Their injuries were not life threatening, said Chiou I-jen, secretary-general in the Presidential Office.
No arrests were reported and it was not clear what the motivation was for the apparent assassination attempt, in a street choked with supporters of the president in his hometown, the southern city of Tainan. Officials declined to speculate about who fired the shots.
“They did not suffer life-threatening injuries. They urge the public to cool down,” Chiou said at a news conference. He added that “the president is conscious” and “can still direct the nation’s affairs.”
The presidential vote will go ahead as planned on Saturday, an election official said.
The Chinese government, which had sharply criticized Chen’s plans for a referendum, had no immediate reaction to the shootings. The Foreign Ministry referred questions to the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, which didn’t answer telephone calls.
This is course brings to mind the bombings in Spain right before their election and speculation as to whether the use of murder will become a widespread electioneering tactic. NPR reports that Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party was trailing in the polls. One wonders if a massive sympathy vote will turn the tide.