Taiwan's president denies faking shooting

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian denied Tuesday that he faked his own shooting, as scuffles break out in parliament over a recount

Taiwan's twisted election saga took another couple of turns Tuesday, with President Chen Shui-bian appearing on TV to deny he faked his own shooting, and physical scuffles breaking out in the country's parliament over a proposed recount.

Chen won Saturday's vote by a margin of just one-fifth of one percentage point, a day after he and his vice-president were shot and slightly wounded while campaigning for re-election in Tainan.

"They have labelled me a vote-rigging president, and this is the biggest humiliation to my character," Chen told Taiwanese television, denying that the shooting was staged to win sympathy.

He also told reporters that he walked into the hospital for treatment of his stomach graze because he wanted to appear statesmanlike in order to reassure the public. Foes had used that gesture to argue that Chen knew the injury was not serious because he had played a role in arranging it.

Police in Taiwan say they still have no suspects in the attack, which also left vice-president Annette Lu with a knee injury.

Opposition leader Lien Chan called for a recount and possibly a new election because of the impact sympathy votes may have had on the close result. He's also suspicious that more than 330,000 ballots were declared spoiled, three times the number from the previous election in 2000.

A vote on the recount motion was put off when scuffles broke out between Chen and Lien supporters at a parliamentary committee meeting. The legislators stormed out of the room a short time later without voting.

Chen told reporters that he supports a recount and will live with its result.

"I will accept it 100 per cent, absolutely accept it," he said.

The political uncertainty has taken a toll on Taiwan's stock market, where the main index fell over four per cent in early trading Tuesday, following a loss of 6.7 per cent Monday.

Meanwhile, China's official Xinhua News Agency sided with the opposition Tuesday, accusing Chen of "political fraud."

China still considers the island part of its territory, though it broke away in 1949 after Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek lost a civil war to Mao Zedong's Communists and fled to Taiwan to set up a government there.