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September 25, 2017

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Ma, premier, speaker, VP to meet over crisis

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Presidential Office confirmed that President Ma Ying-jeou will convene a meeting this morning with Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) in order to come up with a solution to the demonstration being held at the Legislature.

Yesterday marked the third day since protesters stormed the Legislature and seized control of the Assembly Hall. Replete with supplies and sleeping bags, more than 200 protesters occupied the main building and sealed off all entrances in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from ratifying the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Pact, while thousands surrounded the entire compound.

The activists gave the president and the speaker an "ultimatum," demanding that Ma communicate with them directly and that Wang make a ruling on the pact's status by noon Friday. The activists threatened to expand their demonstration if the president and the speaker do not comply.

Meanwhile, ruling party and opposition lawmakers have been urging the speaker to arrange cross-caucus negotiations as soon as possible, while the speaker said that he will not exercise the right of instructing police stationed at the Legislature to evict the activists.

Rule of Law Is Nation's Foundation: Ma

The president expressed approval of the students' passion in public affairs, adding, however, that the rule of law is Taiwan's foundation.

According to Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏), the president will convene a meeting with the vice president, the premier and the speaker of the Legislative Yuan in accordance with Article 44 of the R.O.C. Constitution in order to come up with a solution and restore order to the parliament.

Li said that the president has been paying close attention to the demonstration being held at the Legislative Yuan and that he is very concerned about the situation.

The president expressed approval of the students' passion in public affairs and their motivations; however, he also believes that democracy is a precious thing and that the rule of law is the nation's foundation, the spokeswoman explained.

A source within the Kuomintang (KMT) said that the president must respect legislative autonomy and that the president, as chairman of the ruling party, has asked the KMT caucus to communicate with the opposition so that parliamentary procedures can carry on.

Article 44 of the R.O.C. Constitution stipulates that the president may call a meeting with the heads of the Five Yuans, the highest branches of the R.O.C. Government, in the event of a dispute between the different government branches.

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