Key figures defect from Taiwan Independence Party.
The founders of the four-year-old Taiwan Independence Party (TAIP) urged the dissolution Friday of their radical pro-independence group, saying its historic mission to topple the long-ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) has been fulfilled.
Lee Chen-yuan, the founding chairman of TAIP, and 22 other key party figures announced at a news conference they were leaving from the party.
They said the party, a splinter of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), had lost its reason for existing since the DPP's Chen Shui-bian won the March 18 presidential election.
''Chen's election victory ended 55 years of KMT rule and is a great victory for Taiwan democracy,'' the TAIP defectors said in a statement.
''We believe that the TAIP's temporary mission has been completed and we do not feel compelled and are not willing to stay in a TAIP whose usefulness is weakening by the day,'' they said.
They said they hoped TAIP would dissolve to join forces with the new government, but said they would respect it if other party members want to keep the party alive.
The news conference was disrupted several times by party members who are opposed to dissolving TAIP.
They issued an appeal rejecting the defectors' claim the party's declared aim to ''establish a new and independent Taiwan republic'' had been achieved.
Lee, a former DPP member, founded TAIP in October 1996 together with other DPP renegades who were disappointed that the DPP had toned down its pro-independence stance after its candidate's disappointing showing in the 1996 presidential election.
The current TAIP leader, Cheng Pang-chen, originally planned to run in the March 18 presidential election, but renounced his bid after failing to gather the 220,000 signatures required to make a candidacy viable.
TAIP holds just one seat in the legislature. It has some 2,000 party members, according to party officials.