Chiang Kai-shek great-grandson to run for office in Taiwan

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party on Wednesday nominated a great-grandson of former leader Chiang Kai-shek to stand in parliamentary elections next year, as it struggles to revive its waning popularity.

Chiang Wan-an, a 36-year-old lawyer, will compete to represent a district of the capital Taipei City and said he wanted to prove that there was "new blood" willing to fight for the KMT in January's vote, after the party was trounced in local elections in November.

That defeat came amid public concern over China's growing influence, a stagnating economy and a series of food scandals.

"After the defeat of last year's election, the morale of the KMT has been very low," Chiang said on his Facebook page.

"My decision to plunge myself into the race is just to let the party supporters know that there is still new blood willing to fight... The youths of the Kuomintang are also passionate to make our future better." January's parliamentary elections are held alongside the presidential vote.

Chiang's nomination was approved by the party based on the results of two public surveys, in which he beat incumbent legislator Lo Shu-lei by 11 per cent.

But despite the primary victory, local media said Chiang would face a huge challenge because of negative public sentiment.

He will take on Liang Wen-chieh, from the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party, a noted city councillor.

His nomination also comes at a time when there is increasing anger over Chiang Kai-shek's role in a 1947 massacre in Taiwan that left thousands dead.

Statues of the former leader have been attacked and many have been removed from public places.

Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war in China to the communists and has been criticised for his repressive rule during his presidency, which ended with his death in 1975.

His son Chiang Ching-kuo ruled Taiwan from 1978 until he died in 1988, having lifted martial law the previous year.