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Festive rally closes Legislature occupation as protesters head home

2014/04/10 22:54

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) Tens of thousands of high-spirited protesters began dispersing as a festive rally outside the Legislature complex Thursday night marked an end to the student-led protest over the trade-in-services pact with China.

As the rally was ongoing, more than 100 protesters began exiting the building where they had been sitting in since March 18 just after 6 p.m. The crowd began to dissipate around 8:30 p.m., half an hour ahead of schedule.

Demonstrators marked the end of their unprecedented sit-in with a rendition of "Island's Sunrise," the theme song of their movement, as they waved cell phones in the air, flashlights lit.

The organizers of the rally read a statement that despite the end of the occupation, their movement is not over, and they will watch closely how a proposed law to monitor cross-strait agreements is enacted and how the Legislature reviews the services agreement.

The group said they have taken the most important step by drawing widespread attention locally and internationally.

They also expressed their gratitude to nearby residents for their support and allowing the demonstration to go on.

Protest leaders on Monday announced the end to their unprecedented occupation of the Legislature after a visit a day earlier from Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who promised to pass a bill to oversee cross-strait agreements before he calls any more cross-party negotiations on how to go ahead with the review of the services agreement.

The protesters demanded that the services pact be shelved until closer monitoring could be implemented through legislation.

Since their movement began three weeks earlier, they had expressed worries that the pact will give China too much economic influence over Taiwan and hurt local small and medium-sized enterprises.

The government, on the other hand, has maintained that the services pact will benefit Taiwan's economy and help its efforts to join other regional free trade blocs.

(By Chen Chih-chung and Elaine Hou)ENDITEM/WH