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June 24, 2017

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Diane Lee resigns in citizenship row

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Lawmaker Diane Lee of the ruling Kuomintang yesterday announced her resignation from the legislature, citing the dispute over her alleged dual citizenship.

Lee's qualification as a legislator has been challenged since it was reported early last year that she had never officially renounced her U.S. citizenship even though she has assumed public office in Taiwan since 1994.

Taiwan's Nationality Act requires those with dual nationality to renounce their foreign citizenship before assuming public office and to obtain a certificate testifying to the loss of foreign citizenship within one year of their inauguration.

The law also requires that public officials holding foreign citizenship be removed from their posts.

Lee chose to quit her job mainly to deny the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) the opportunity to use the dispute over her alleged dual citizen to boycott the screening of central government expense budget bill for 2009, thus triggering conflicts between KMT and DPP lawmakers.

The DPP vowed on Friday to mobilize supporters to blockade the Legislature Building for failing to swiftly handle Lee's alleged dual citizen case. Supporters were asked to gather in front of the Legislature building on Friday morning for an around-the-clock blockade to exert pressure on lawmakers over the Lee case.

DPP lawmakers also threatened to file a complaint with prosecutors against Foreign Minister Francisco Ou, whom they accused of mishandling the Lee case.

Despite Lee's resignation, the DPP's plan to blockade the Legislative Building will continue as scheduled, according to DPP sources.

Cheng Wen-tsan, publicity chief of the DPP, said it's too late for Lee to quit, because her case has lingered for over 300 days, leading to a serious waste of social cost. Both Lee and the KMT should apologize to the public for Lee's undesirable practices.

Meanwhile, Speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the Legislative Yuan said, "I don't expect Lee's resignation, but I respect her decision to quit. Everybody should be responsible for what he or she has done."

Lee's resignation became valid immediately after the resignation document reached Wang's hands later yesterday afternoon.

Lee also called Wang to express her gratitude to him for taking care of her over the past 10-odd years in the legislature. She also called chairman Wu Po-hsiung of the KMT about her resignation.

Lawmaker Chang Shou-wen, convener of the legislative caucus of the KMT, said the KMT caucus respects her decision and wishes her good luck.

After Lee's resignation, a by-election in the constituent of Daan and Wenshan districts will be held within three months. Both KMT and DPP are expected to field strong candidates for the election.

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