TAIPEI (CNA) — Approximately 20 members of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) called on the party on April 9 to recruit Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to represent the party in Taiwan’s 2020 presidential elections, citing him as the strongest candidate.

The 20 KMT Central Committee members, including Hsu Cheng-wen (徐正文), Li Wei-hua (李偉華) and Chen Mao-chia (陳茂嘉), and various local government representatives also asked that the party’s next national congress be held in April or early May rather than July to officially nominate Han.

Hsu said Han is the candidate of choice among people at the grassroots level who long for a fresh face in 2020 and represents the party’s best chance to win the 2020 election.

The congress should be moved up, Hsu argued, in response to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s decision to select its presidential nominee this month.

The KMT is currently scheduled to present its nominee at the party congress in July after it holds a primary, but Hsu contended that waiting so long after the DPP rallies around a candidate would hurt party unity.

The later the party congress is held, the more unfavorable the situation will be for the KMT because it will allow for continued squabbling among the front-runners for the nomination.

Hsu warned more senior members of the KMT that whoever chooses to block Han’s nomination and delay the congress will also be the culprit responsible for blocking the party’s victory.

To date, Han has tried to dismiss talk of a presidential bid, saying he wants to help revitalize Kaohsiung’s economy after being elected to his post in late 2018.

It remains uncertain whether he would be willing to run for higher office so soon after being elected, but most opinion polls show him to be the KMT politician with the most support against potential opponents.

Hsu noted that KMT party regulations allow an extraordinary national party congress to be convened when over half of the committee members or party headquarters request one, and said he intends to drum up support for such a request to be made.

In response to Hsu’s comments, KMT spokesman Hsiao Ching-yen (蕭敬嚴) said in an interview with CNA that convening an extraordinary national party congress would require careful consideration of whether it would be necessary.

The most important goal of the KMT is to win the 2020 presidential election, and the party will definitely nominate the strongest candidate, Hsiao said.

It is believed that KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and all party members fully agree with this goal, Hsiao said.

By Wang Cheng-chung and William Yen