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Ma Ying-jeou elected Taiwan leader

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) declared its candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, won the island's leadership election on Saturday, according to an initial ballot count.

Taiwan's KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou celebrates election victory in Taibei March 22, 2008. [Agencies]

Taiwan residents began voting in the leadership election at 8 a.m., voting ended at 4 p.m.. Results are expected at 9.30 p.m. About 17.3 million people voted at 14,401 polling stations, said the Taiwan authority.

Frank Hsieh from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and his running mate Su Tseng-chang, are competing to be Taiwan's next leaders with Ma Ying-jeou, former KMT party chairman, and Vincent Siew.

Taiwan residents also voted on Saturday in two "referendums" on launching a bid to join the United Nations, one put forward by the DPP and one by the KMT.

In January, the KMT won 81 of the 113 seats in Taiwan's "legislature" elections, scoring a landslide victory over the DPP, which got 27 seats.

UN membership referendums defeated

Taiwan residents on Saturday vetoed two "referendums" on launching a bid to join the United Nations, according to an initial count of the votes on Saturday.

A vote on whether the island should seek UN membership under the name "Taiwan," as proposed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was held simultaneously with the leadership poll.

A second "referendum," held at the same time as Saturday's election and proposed by the Kuomintang (KMT), on whether the island should "return to the global body under any name," was also vetoed by voters.

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