Taiwan's KMT appeals court ruling over political scandal

Taiwan's ruling party on Monday appealed a local court ruling that overturned the expulsion of the parliament speaker over allegations of influence-peddling.

The Kuomintang (KMT), chaired by President Ma Ying-jeou, kicked Wang Jin-pyng out of the party last week and removed him as parliamentary speaker after Wang was accused of trying to influence prosecutors.

But on Friday Wang scored a victory in the battle to keep his job, after the Taipei district court granted his request for a provisional injunction against the Kuomintang party, allowing him to retain his party membership and continue as speaker.

"The district court has no right to decide upon internal affairs of any political party," Kuomintang's lawyer Chen Ming told reporters after filing the appeal.

The latest legal wranglings come one day before parliament opens for a new session, where angry confrontations are expected.

Wang, 72, was a KMT heavyweight known for his grass-roots influence in the south and the second most powerful politician in the party.

His removal has sparked fears of a split within the party in a deepening political scandal that has already seen two top government officials resign.

Ma had said Wang was "unfit" to head the legislature after he was accused of influencing prosecutors not to appeal the acquittal last year of Ker Chien-ming -- party whip for the major opposition DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) in parliament -- in a breach of trust case.

While Ma described the incident as "the most shameful day" in Taiwan's democracy, the accusations were rejected by Wang.

The president's popularity plunged to an all-time low of 11 percent amid the controversy, according to a recent survey released by the TVBS cable news channel, while 55 percent disapproved of the KMT's move and just 17 percent approved.

Ma's spokesman Lo Chih-chiang resigned on Thursday due to criticism over the case.

Justice minister Tseng Yung-fu also stepped down earlier this month after he was implicated in the same influence-peddling scandal.