The Taiwan government insisted it was business as usual on Tuesday, three days after the ruling party was routed in elections and a day after the premier rebuffed attempts by the president to keep him in his job.
President Ma Ying-jeou stood outside the home of Premier Mao Chi-kuo in the cold on Monday for five minutes, but only Mao’s wife came to the door – and she didn’t let him in, the United Daily News, a newspaper considered close to the Nationalist party, and the state-run Central News Agency said.
The cabinet confirmed the two men did not meet, but said some of the press speculation was off the mark.
Just hours after the visit, Mao appeared at a special cabinet session and formally stepped down with his ministers.
It is customary for the premier to resign after the ruling party loses a major election, followed by the pro forma quitting of cabinet ministers.
But the inability of Ma to persuade his lieutenant to stay put prompted a flurry of press frenzy about further rifts in an already weakened Nationalist party.
The cabinet, known as the Executive Yuan, said Vice Premier Simon Chang will be acting premier.
“In the transition period before the new cabinet is formed, the administration will continue its work,” the cabinet said. “It will definitely not be a lameduck, caretaker cabinet.”
Tsai Ing-wen led her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party to a landslide victory in presidential and parliamentary polls on Saturday, much to the annoyance of China, which considers the island a breakaway province.
While the new parliament goes to work in February, Tsai will not be sworn in until May, leaving a four-month transition period.