Mexico's election still in dispute
Sep 1, 2012 / 1:00 pm
Mexico's highest electoral authority declared Friday that Enrique Pena Nieto was the legitimate winner of the July 1 presidential election, formally opening the transition to a new government despite continuing claims of fraud by the left's second-place finisher.
The Federal Electoral Tribunal said leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador failed to prove claims that vote-buying had affected the results of the vote that returns the former autocratic ruling party to Mexico's highest office after a 12-year absence.
Pena Nieto, 46, insists his Institutional Revolutionary Party, the PRI, has changed.
In the final decades of the 20th century, its rule was marked corruption, vote fraud and periodic economic crises.
"Mexico will have a modern, responsible presidency, open to criticism, willing to listen and take into account all Mexicans," Pena Nieto said at a ceremony in which the tribunal gave him the document certifying him as president-elect.
Outgoing President Felipe Calderon called Pena Nieto to congratulate him and wish him the best for his administration that will begin when he takes office Dec. 1.
Lopez-Obrador told reporters Friday morning that he refused to recognize the election results and was calling for a peaceful protest that he described as "civil disobedience" on Sept. 9 in the Zocalo, the historic plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City.
He launched street demonstrations that paralyzed central Mexico City after he lost the 2006 vote, but widespread protests appear far less likely this time.
Lopez-Obrador said the electoral tribunal made an illegitimate ruling Thursday evening when it rejected the leftist's allegations of vote-buying and other campaign violations by the PRI.
The seven electoral magistrates are nominated by Mexico's Supreme Court and confirmed by Congress and are widely seen as credible and non-partisan, although Lopez-Obrador has alleged that several members were based in favour of the PRI.
Lopez Obrador said he wants the protest to respect the law, and he did not indicate that there would be a repeat of the blockades he launched in 2006.
By Friday afternoon, there were a few scattered protests around the capital by Lopez Obrador sympathizers, including a brief blockage of highway toll booths by a group of students, but little evidence of widespread mobilization.
Mexico's Roman Catholic Council of Bishops issued a statement calling on politicians to leave post-electoral disputes behind and unite to fight poverty and violence.
Confirmation of the PRI's victory returns the party to Mexico's highest office, which it held without interruption from 1929 to 2000. In past decades, the party engaged in widespread coercion of its opponents, monopolizing virtually every institution in the country. The party says it has reformed and handed control to a new generation of democratically minded young technocrats with a vision of modernizing Mexico.
Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed to this report.
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