More fighting as Taiwan opposition again occupies parliament

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s main opposition party again occupied parliament on Tuesday to protest against the nomination of a close aide to the president to a top-level watchdog, after fighting with ruling party lawmakers to get into the building.

Violence and protests inside the chamber are not unusual in Taiwan, a spirited democracy where passions often run over.

Last month fights erupted inside the chamber after lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) broke through barricades erected by the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) who had occupied it to protest against government “tyranny”.

The KMT has been protesting President Tsai Ing-wen’s nomination of her senior aide Chen Chu to head the Control Yuan, an independent government watchdog, saying it is “political cronyism”.

Lawmakers from both parties fought outside the building before a group of KMT legislators got into parliament’s main chamber, occupying the central podium seeking to prevent a confirmation hearing for Chen.

KMT lawmakers overturned the stand where Chen was due to speak, unveiling banners reading “no to cronyism, withdraw the nomination”.

“We cannot accept this and are resolutely opposed to it,” KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang told supporters outside parliament.

Chen posted a picture on her Facebook page of herself inside parliament reading papers, saying she was preparing for the hearing.

“I hope all parties can get back to official business. We will discuss matters in a democratic parliament and discuss them rationally,” she wrote.

The DPP has a large parliamentary majority, and has been angered by the targeting of Chen, who was jailed in 1980 for helping lead pro-democracy demonstrations against the then-KMT government when Taiwan was a dictatorship.

The KMT was trounced in January’s parliamentary and presidential elections, having failed to shake off accusations they were too pro-China.

The party traditionally favours close ties with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory.

The KMT-led Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after loosing the Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong’s Communist Party.

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