TAIPEI (CNA) — Former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) registered on March 18 to seek the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) nomination as its candidate in the 2020 presidential election.

Lai completed his registration for the presidential primary around noon at the DPP headquarters in Taipei, accompanied by party Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) and Secretary-General Lo Wen-jia (羅文嘉).

His entry into the race came about a month after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a CNN interview that she would seek reelection in 2020.

Responding to comments that his decision to compete against Tsai may cause divisions in the party, Lai said the DPP has a democratic primary process that will not be divisive.

His decision to compete in the primary was not based on any personal reasons but rather was a response to calls by the DPP’s grassroots supporters, said Lai, who has described himself as a “pragmatic advocate of Taiwan independence.”

In the 2020 presidential elections, the DPP will be in an even more precarious position than it was in the 2008 race and the grassroots supporters are worried that not only would the DPP lose the presidency and its majority in the Legislature, but the country’s sovereignty and democracy would face unprecedented challenges, Lai said.

Lai, who resigned as premier on Jan. 11 to take responsibility for the DPP’s defeat in the local government elections last November, said he felt he should have the courage and accept the responsibility of safeguarding Taiwan and therefore decided to throw his hat into the ring for the party’s presidential primary.

By Chen Chun-hua and Evelyn Kao