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Prime Minister OKd in Taiwan Amid Protests

From Associated Press

The legislature confirmed a top general as Taiwan’s new prime minister during a raucous session Tuesday, and hundreds of opponents fought in the streets with police, burned buses and tossed firebombs at government buildings.

At least 40 people, including 10 officers, were reported injured. Police detained 10 people in the rioting, which paralyzed downtown traffic for more than 12 hours.

Two police officers were hospitalized with serious burns from firebombs, police said.

At the height of the clashes, about 600 demonstrators, many wearing headbands with the slogan, “Oppose Military Intervention in Politics,” fought roving battles with about 5,000 riot police near the Legislative Yuan building. Police used water cannons to try to subdue them, witnesses said.

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What touched off the unrest was the approval of Defense Minister Hau Pei-tsun as the next prime minister. Legislators approved him by a vote of 186 to 27.

The vote was delayed seven hours as 21 members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party stormed the podium, threw the Speaker’s chair from the dais, kicked their seats in disgust and grabbed microphones from lawmakers of the ruling Nationalist Party.

The opposition lawmakers, all wearing vests with Chinese characters reading, “Oppose a Soldier Leading the Cabinet,” occupied voting booths for an hour to prevent Nationalist lawmakers from casting ballots. Several replacement voting booths were torn down.

At one point, legislature Speaker Liang Su-jung called in 100 police officers to restore order.

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Hau, 70, the nation’s only four-star general, was selected by President Lee Teng-hui earlier this month to head the Cabinet.


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