Meetings canceled as protesters occupy Legislature

03/19/2014 11:39 AM
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Countdown of protesters
Countdown of protesters' 63-hour occupation on the Legislative Yuan floor, Wednesday morning.

Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Taiwan's legislature ground to a halt Wednesday as hundreds of protesters skeptical of the service trade pact with China continued to occupy the Legislative Yuan's main chamber while thousands more surrounded entrances to the complex.

All scheduled meetings of the Legislature's eight committees were called off out of concern for the safety of lawmakers and officials following the occupation movement that began late Tuesday.

One canceled item was a scheduled hearing on Taiwan's Free Economic Pilot Zones project.

Some officials arriving early for the meetings were heckled by protesters.

The atmosphere was tense as police closed a road next to the legislature, set up barbed wire and asked for identification for anyone trying to access the complex's many entrances.

It is not clear whether the police will try again to clear the Legislature of protesters after two failed attempts in the early hours of Wednesday.

Protesters have demanded the trade-in-services pact which Taiwan signed with China last June be given a detailed review by the Legislature's committees -- a process cut short when lawmakers from the ruling party declared the review ended Monday.

They have also called for an apology from President Ma Ying-jeou and the resignation of Premier Jiang Yi-huah.

(By Kelven Huang and Jay Chen)

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Update:Opposition party mobilizes members, mulling 'long-term' protest (3:46 p.m. Wednesday / For latest developments, please click here.)●President calls for approval of cross-strait pact before JuneCabinet to respect how Legislature deals with protestSpeaker calls for self-restraint in Legislative standoff

Related stories:●March 19: Student protesters repel police, hold Legislative chamber●March 19: Police step back from effort to evict students inside Legislature●March 19: Police begin evicting protesters occupying legislature●March 19: DPP politicians try to protect students inside Legislature●March 19: Four injured during student storming of Legislature●March 18: Students dig in for prolonged occupation of Legislature●March 18: Protesters break police line, storm Legislature●March 18: Talk of the Day -- Service trade pact pushed forward amid chaos

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