Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) Eric Chu (朱立倫), chairman of the ruling Kuomintang and its new presidential candidate, announced Monday his decision to take leave from his concurrent post as New Taipei mayor to focus on the presidential campaign.
Deputy Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) will act in his place during his absence, effective Tuesday, Chu said in a city government meeting.
He again apologized to the city's residents over his abrupt decision to run for the next president.
"I had previously said on many occasions that I would not join the 2016 presidential election. But at this crucial moment, it was a decision I had no choice but to make, to improve the health of Taiwan's democracy," he said.
He said he will make a full effort to win the support of the people and that if he is elected, he will strive for Taiwan and New Taipei residents.
Chu was picked as the KMT's new presidential candidate during a special party congress held Saturday, three months before the Jan. 16, 2016 election.
He replaced Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who was confirmed in July as the KMT presidential candidate but since then had been unable to narrow the huge gap between her and the Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in public opinion polls.
(By Justin Su and Y.F. Low)ENDITEM/ke