Taiwan’s president calls for calm before the storm

Taiwan’s president Chen Shui-bian has been released from hospital after taking a shot in the stomach yesterday at a rally in the southern city of Tainan.

Chen appealed for calm and said today’s presidential election would go ahead as planned.

He told TV viewers hours after the shooting: “There’s no problem with A-bian (his nickname).”

He added: “The national security mechanism has been put in place. Taiwan’s security is assured. Please be calm and relieved.”

Thousands of his supporters took to the streets of Taipei to protest against the assassination plot.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the terror assault.

Vice president Annette Lu was also wounded, taking a shot to the right knee after assailants fired on his motorcade.

Doctors say the surgery was successful and both politicians are stable.

On Saturday, Chen goes head to head with opposition leader Lien Chan.

Also on Saturday, Taiwanese voters will be asked in a referendum – backed by Chen – whether Taiwan should strengthen defences against possible Chinese aggression.

Lien Chan, the presidential candidate of the Kuomintang (KMT), the Nationalist Party, said his party condemned the assassination attempt and urged Taiwanese to stay calm and “stand together.”

“At this critical moment we have to show we are rational people.”