The leader of Taiwan's main opposition party, Ma Ying-jeou, has resigned from his post of chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) after he was indicted on charges of corruption.
At a press conference held to announce his resignation, Ma protested his innocence and immediately declared for the first time that he would run for the 2008 Taiwan leader election if selected as the KMT candidate.
A KMT regulation stipulates that the chairman of the party is required to resign from his post if he is prosecuted, regardless of whether or not he is found guilty. Ma may be allowed to resume his position if he is acquitted of the charges.
Taiwan prosecutors said Ma diverted 11 million New Taiwan dollars (333,000 U.S. dollars) from Taipei's special allowance funds to his private account when he was mayor of Taipei.
The prosecutors did not say what jail term they would seek but say they would suggest the court give Ma a light penalty if he is found guilty.
The clean government committee, which operates under the KMT, published an investigation report after Ma's indictment was announced, arguing that the special allowances deposited in Ma's personal account had all been used for public welfare services.
The report said that Ma donated a total of 68.09 million New Taiwan dollars (2.06 million U.S. dollars) to public undertakings in his tenure as Taipei city mayor, far more than the special allowances put in his private account.
It is in keeping with the policy of the Taiwan authorities to put part of the special allowances into a private account, the report said.
Taiwan prosecutors also indicted Yu Wen, former secretary of the Taipei mayor's office, on charges of forgery.
Indictments against five other people involved in the forgery case have been temporarily postponed, according to Taiwan prosecutors.
In August 2006, some Democratic Progressive Party members had accused Ma of misusing special allowance funds while he was mayor of Taipei, which led to the investigation.
Special allowance funds are allocated by the Taiwan authorities to the executive officers at various levels in Taiwan. Official receipts are only required for half of the special allowance funds, while the spending of the other half only requires the signature of the official.
Ma said earlier he would resign his post as KMT chairman if he was indicted.