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Calderon wins Mexican presidential race - Obrador refuses to concede defeat

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  • Calderon wins Mexican presidential race - Obrador refuses to concede defeat

    MEXICO CITY - The ruling party's Felipe Calderon won the official count in Mexico's disputed presidential race Thursday, a come-from-behind victory for the stiff technocrat. But his leftist rival refused to concede and said he'd fight the results in court.

    Calderon, a conservative who preached free-market values and financial stability during the campaign, was already reaching out to other parties to build a "unity government." His opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, blamed fraud for his narrow loss in the vote count and called on his supporters to fill Mexico City's main square Saturday in a show of force.

    With the 41 million votes counted, Calderon of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party had 35.89 percent to 35.31 percent for Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party. The two were separated by 0.57 percent, or 236,006 votes.

    Roberto Madrazo, whose Institutional Revolutionary Party controlled Mexico for 71 years until Fox's victory in 2000, had 22.27 percent, and two minor candidates split the rest.

    Luis Carlos Ugalde, president of the Federal Electoral Institute, confimed Calderon as the winner Thursday night, several hours after the final vote count was released.

    However, the official declaration of a president-elect must come from the Federal Electoral Tribunal, which has until Sept. 6 to announce. Meanwhile, any challenges will go before the tribunal court. The next president begins a single, six-year term on Dec. 1.

    Mexican stocks closed 2.7 percent higher and the peso rebounded Thursday on the news of Calderon's lead. The markets closed before the count was finished.

    But many obstacles remain in Calderon's path. If his victory is upheld by electoral courts, he will face a Congress dominated by opposition parties, as well as a divided nation that sends millions north to work in the United States illegally.

    President Bush's decision to send National Guard troops to the border has increased tensions in Mexico, as has a U.S. congressional proposal to extend walls along the two countries' frontier.

    Calderon wants to rely on Mexico's many free-trade accords to create jobs and crack down on rising crime, and says he'll try to smooth U.S. relations without letting Washington dominate.

    "I want to establish a very constructive relationship without bowing my head and lowering my eyes to the Americans," Calderon said in heavily accented English during an interview with The Associated Press.

    "I have met with President Bush several times. I have interviewed with President Bush and several members of the American Congress, and I know it's possible to establish a more constructive relationship, and that would be very good for both countries."

    Addressing hundreds of cheering supporters before dawn Thursday, he called on Mexicans to move beyond the bitter campaign and "begin a new era of peace, of reconciliation."

    He reached out to the millions of people who voted against him, asking for a "chance to win your confidence."

    For months, Lopez Obrador had been the easy front-runner in the race, promising to govern for the poor and launch big public works projects. But he slipped in the polls after he refused to take part in the first of two televised debates, and never quite recovered.

    "It was Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's election to lose, and he lost," said Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

    On Thursday, the former Mexico City mayor said that widespread fraud — not campaign missteps — cost him the election, and he called on his supporters to gather Saturday for an "informational assembly."

    "We are always going to act in a responsible manner, but at the same time, we have to defend the citizens' will," he said.

    He denounced election officials for going forward with an official count of poll-workers' vote tallies, as required by election law, and ignoring his demand for a ballot-by-ballot review.

    "We are going to the Federal Electoral Tribunal with the same demand — that the votes be counted — because we cannot accept these results," Lopez Obrador said.

    Lopez Obrador supporters who followed the folksy leftist with near religious zeal wept in the streets at news of his loss. A busload of children from a private school jeered at three women bawling uncontrollably as they held up banners.

    As Lopez Obrador emerged from his apartment, one woman rushed forward and startled him with a desperate embrace. Taken aback for an instant, the candidate reassured her and kissed her gently on the top of the head. Tears rolled down her cheeks.


  • #2
    Mexico's leftist presidential candidate prepared to launch his legal battle to overturn his conservative rival's apparent victory on Sunday when his lawyers submit what they claim is proof of vote fraud to the nation's top electoral court.

    The move by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who appears to have narrowly lost the vote to ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon, comes a day after the fiery leftist held a massive rally in Mexico City's historic center and called on his supporters to help keep his hopes alive.

    The evidence to be presented to the Federal Election Tribunal includes alleged proof of computer manipulation of results and that votes weren't counted, his party says.

    The legal appeals won't seek to annul the July 2 election, but to force authorities to conduct a manual vote-by-vote recount. Over 100,000 supporters rallying in Mexico City on Saturday chanted "vote by vote!"

    Election officials say Calderon beat Lopez Obrador by less than 244,000 votes out of 41 million ballots - or a margin of about 0.6 percent.

    But Lopez Obrador remains convinced he won. He has millions of devoted followers who believe only he can help Mexico's poor and downtrodden, and he views street protests as an effective means of pressuring the government and the courts.

    Lopez Obrador's claims include allegations that President Vicente Fox used government funds to support Felipe Calderon, the candidate of Fox's conservative National Action Party.

    Fox has denied intervening in the elections, and election monitors from the European Union said they found no irregularities in the count.

    But the allegations strike a sensitive nerve with many Mexicans who still question whether the nation has overcome the decades of institutional corruption and fraud that favored the ruling party. Lopez Obrador has stoked those fears.

    On Saturday, he accused the respected Federal Electoral Institute, held up as an example to emerging democracies around the world, of being a "pawn of the party of the right."

    Fox "dedicated himself to attacking us and ended up being a complete traitor of democracy," Lopez Obrador said.

    Representatives for Fox and Calderon were not immediately available to comment. Fox has stayed out of the public eye in the past two weeks, an effort to avoid accusations that he is meddling in the debate.

    The leftist former Mexico City mayor also said a previously arranged software program was used to skew initial vote-count reports - similar to the alleged computer crash that flipped Mexico's 1988 elections in favor of the ruling party at the time.

    Legal challenges were built into Mexico's elections process in recent years to help ensure clean elections, so Calderon can't be declared president-elect until the electoral court weighs allegations of fraud or unfair campaign practices. The court has until Sept. 6 to declare a winner.

    Lopez Obrador claims include allegations that votes weren't counted or voided without reason.

    The law allows a manual recount only for specific polling places where credible evidence of irregularities exist. The leftist's supporters say that applies to at least 50,000 of the approximately 130,000 polling places.

    Calderon says the vote was clean and has taken congratulatory phone calls from U.S. President George W. Bush and the leaders of Canada, Spain and Colombia, among others - despite Lopez Obrador's plea for foreign governments to hold off on recognizing the result.

    "We are going to ask that they clean up the elections. We are going to ask that they count all the votes, vote-by-vote, poll-by-poll," Lopez Obrador said. He claimed the election fraud was worse than under the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000, often using fraud to hold power.

    Lopez Obrador provoked groans of disappointment from the crowd packed into the capital's central plaza on Saturday when he told them not to block highways.

    "This has been and goes on being a peaceful movement," he said. "We are not going to fall for any provocations."

    But Lopez Obrador has repeatedly evaded questions about whether he would accept court decisions that go against him, and said "a victory for the right is morally impossible."

    Also Sunday, the Federal Electoral Institute will certify the results of the July 2 election and wrap up vote tallies that will determine the number of seats each party has in Congress.

    According to calculations by Mexican media based on a preliminary vote count, Calderon's National Action Party will be awarded 210 seats in the lower house, while Lopez Obrador's leftist alliance with have 163 seats and an alliance led by the PRI will have 113 seats. Another 14 seats will go to minor parties, according to these calculations, which have not been certified by electoral officials.

    Mexico's leftist candidate presents evidence of fraud


    • #3
      Supporters of Mexico's leftist presidential candidate head to capital, demanding recount


      • #4
        Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the embattled leftist presidential candidate, said Friday that he would never concede defeat, even if a recount of all ballots upheld a victory for his opponent, Felipe Calderón. But he added that if the courts did order a recount and he lost, he would call off demonstrations.....

        Mexico’s leftist candidate says he’ll never concede defeat


        • #5
          Obrador should certainly hang on until there's been a fair and proper recount - it looks like there were too many irregularities to take this vote seriously.



          • #6
            Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the candidate who claims he was robbed of victory in Mexico's contested presidential election, is preparing to lead a protest rally to press for a vote-by-vote recount.

            Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join the march across Mexico City on Sunday to its central Zocalo, one of the world's largest squares, where Lopez Obrador is expected to announce details of a civil disobedience campaign to push the case for a recount.

            Mexico has faced political chaos since the election, which saw Lopez Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City, beaten by Felipe Calderon of the ruling conservative party by just around 244,000 votes out of 41 million cast.

            Lopez Obrador, who campaigned on promises to help Mexico's poor with ambitious welfare and infrastructure programmes, is challenging the result before Mexico's highest electoral court.

            He says he will only accept the result if there is a recount.

            While stressing his protests will stay peaceful, Lopez Obrador upped the ante last week by declaring he was the country's legitimate president and warning that his supporters had plenty of energy for more protests.

            The protest on Sunday will be Lopez Obrador's third since the election, and could be the biggest.

            "We are working intensely. It's going to be a historic march, supporters are coming from all over the country," said Jesus Ortega, a senior aide to the leftist candidate.

            Despite growing tension, analysts expect the protests to remain peaceful as Lopez Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, waits for the electoral court to make its call on allegations of vote-rigging over the next few weeks.

            "The PRD is worried about the violence it could generate and is trying to avoid it. I don't see violent organisations among Lopez Obrador's backers," said political analyst Carlos Sirvent, referring to Sunday's march.

            However large the protest, it is unlikely to directly influence the seven electoral court judges who have until August 31 to decide whether there is a case to reopen ballot boxes.

            Lopez Obrador claims that vote counts were fiddled at more than half of the country's 130,000 polling stations.

            The judges' choices range from throwing out Lopez Obrador's case and declaring Calderon the winner, to ordering a partial or full recount or even annulling the election and calling for a repeat.

            An annulment is thought highly unlikely and, without it, the court must formally declare Mexico's president-elect by September 6.

            Calderon insists that the vote was clean and that no recount is needed.

            While his party's lawyers are fighting the PRD at the electoral court, he is trying to pull support from other opposition parties for reforms that he plans to push through once he takes office in December.

            Mexico rally to demand vote recount


            • #7

              Supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attend a protest rally in Mexico City's Zocalo Square, July 30, 2006. Protesters demanded a full recount of ballots from the July 2 general elections.


              • #8
                MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Street protests led by the leftist candidate in Mexico's presidential election plunged the capital into chaos for a second day on Tuesday, raising fears of a long and increasingly nasty fight over vote fraud claims.

                The mass demonstrations called by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to protest alleged vote-rigging in his close defeat by conservative rival Felipe Calderon have turned Mexico City's swanky business district into a sprawling campsite.

                On Tuesday evening the leftist asked supporters to remain peaceful but keep the protest camps going.

                "We are not here because we want to be, it's because we need to be, because we want there to be democracy," he said in the Zocalo square, where hundreds were camped out.

                "I ask you to keep going. We've barely been going two days, I ask you to make the effort, the sacrifice to be in the camps day and night."

                European Union observers say they found no evidence of fraud in the July 2 election, but Mexico's long history of voting irregularities has left many leftists suspicious. Lopez Obrador says he has evidence vote returns were tampered with.

                He has filed 231 challenges with Mexico's top electoral court and wants a full recount. The court has until August 31 to rule on the cases, meaning street protests could stretch on for at least another month.

                Mexico's currency shed 0.85 percent on Tuesday and stocks fell 0.61 percent as the chaos and rising hostility between supporters of Lopez Obrador and Calderon unnerved investors.

                Calderon insists he won cleanly, and opposes a recount.

                "Mexicans know the July 2 election was clean and democratic. However, there are those who want to try and obtain in the street what they couldn't obtain at the ballot box," Calderon said on Tuesday.

                Protesters camped along the capital's main boulevard, skyscraper-flanked Paseo de la Reforma, causing traffic chaos in the heart of one of the world's biggest cities.

                Late for work, court clerk Carolina Gutierrez, 22, shook her head in scorn as she hurried past shouting protesters. Three packed trains had passed by her platform before she could squeeze onto the metro.

                "It is chaos for everybody who lives here," she said. "It's not fair. There are legal ways to resolve this."

                At one major intersection, commuters locked bumpers, many screaming at police who diverted their cars from the artery. "This is a disaster," one man shouted.

                After sleeping in a tent in Mexico City's main square amid thousands of supporters from poor rural areas, Lopez Obrador rose before dawn and strode down Reforma, visiting delighted supporters in makeshift camps.

                Abandoning steaming caldrons of food, shrieking women in shawls mobbed him, jostling with men in warm coats for a hug or a photograph with him. "He is a man of the people," supporter Constantino Matias said. "He is our hope."

                Lopez Obrador is under fire from critics and some longtime allies for paralyzing the heart of the capital.

                He is unrepentant, and his supporters show no signs of abandoning Reforma or Mexico City's vast Spanish colonial main square, which now resembles a refugee camp, complete with food kitchens and a small medical clinic.

                Lopez Obrador dismissed those who accuse him of inflaming class tensions, saying: "Only now are they realizing we live in a very unequal country, where a few own everything and most lack bare essentials."

                Mexico vote protests cripple capital


                • #9
                  Failed Mexican presidential candidate sets up protest camp


                  • #10
                    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's top electoral court ordered a partial recount on Saturday in a fiercely contested presidential election, angering leftists who are threatening mass protests unless all votes are counted again.

                    The court's seven judges rejected demands to re-open every ballot box across Mexico and instead ordered a recount next week at 9 percent of the almost 130,500 polling stations.

                    Leftist challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wants a full recount of the more than 41 million votes cast in the July 2 election. His conservative ruling party rival Felipe Calderon won a razor-thin victory, but Lopez Obrador claims massive fraud.

                    The electoral court could still order many more ballot boxes opened.

                    Dozens of leftists shouted "Traitors!" outside the court building after the ruling.

                    "Without a solution, there'll be revolution," they yelled.

                    Lopez Obrador, a fiery anti-poverty campaigner and former mayor of Mexico City, has repeatedly said he would not accept a partial recount, raising fears of prolonged public unrest.

                    His supporters shut down central Mexico City all week and are threatening to extend the protests.

                    "Not just a small part of the vote returns, we want all the polls re-opened," Lopez Obrador told thousands of supporters on Friday night in the capital's vast Zocalo square.

                    He met with his closest advisors on Saturday afternoon to plan his next move. Some supporters warned of violence ahead.

                    "We are not going to allow this. We want all the polling stations, all 130,000. They are closing the path to democracy and the only thing left to us will be violence because we are not going to back down," said Pilar Saavedra, a university office worker.

                    Demonstrators left four fake coffins outside the court building with the message: "Democracy, R.I.P."

                    Lopez Obrador supporters have occupied the Zocalo and set up camp along the middle of the main boulevard running through Mexico City's business district since Sunday, causing traffic chaos across swathes of the capital.

                    Fearing further unrest, the federal government has raised security at Mexico City's international airport, power plants and oil refineries.

                    Calderon won the election by less than 0.6 percentage point, but he insists his victory was clean.

                    His pro-business National Action Party backed the electoral court's ruling on Saturday.

                    "We hope this ruling helps clear up doubts and concerns about the cleanliness and transparency of the election," said German Martinez, a senior Calderon aide.

                    The recounts at 11,839 polling stations, largely in northern states won resoundingly by Calderon, will begin next Wednesday and be completed on Sunday.

                    If they show the leftist with more votes than in the original result, it will increase pressure to open more ballot boxes. But if the results are unchanged, Lopez Obrador would come under intense pressure to halt his protest campaign.

                    International observers said the election was fair and most Mexicans agree, but about 35 percent believe the vote was rigged and about half favour a full recount, opinion polls show.

                    The bitter dispute has split Mexico and challenged its young democracy just six years after the election of President Vicente Fox broke 71 years of authoritarian and corrupt single-party rule.

                    The electoral court's judges have a reputation for expertise and independence among legal experts. They must rule on all legal challenges by the end of August and declare a president-elect by September 6th.

                    Mexico orders partial recount in presidential vote


                    • #11
                      MEXICO CITY (AP) - Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Sunday that he was digging in for a long battle to ensure his ruling-party rival isn't declared the winner in the July 2 presidential election, calling on his supporters to hold a massive demonstration in front of the court that ruled against his demand for a full recount.

                      Lopez Obrador told tens of thousands of followers in Mexico City's main Zocalo plaza that they should indefinitely man the sprawling, week-old protest camps that have brought much of the capital's normally thriving center to a halt. The blockades have snarled traffic, costing the city an estimated $23 million a day.

                      The former Mexico City mayor said that he would continue to demand a full recount in the presidential race, despite the Federal Electoral Tribunal's decision Saturday in favor of a partial recount. Electoral officials across the nation will begin sifting through ballots from 9 percent of the nation's 130,000 polling places on Wednesday, wrapping up their work by the weekend.

                      Lopez Obrador asked his supporters to gather in front of the tribunal Monday evening, likely halting traffic on yet another main Mexico City street. He said he would demand the court "correct'' its decision.

                      Before Lopez Obrador's speech, protesters chanted in favor of seizing Mexico City's airport. Some suggested taking over Congress, a move that would almost certainly trigger confrontations. Security has been increased at both facilities.

                      While Lopez Obrador did not say whether he would eventually approve such actions, he did promise "new actions, new measure of civil resistance.'' He asked his followers "to prepare ourselves for a struggle that may last longer.''

                      "Even if I wind up alone, if I have the conviction that I am fighting for a just cause, I would continue, stubbornly,'' Lopez Obrador said.

                      The Mexico City government, controlled by Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party, has protected the protest camps that have blocked the elegant Reforma Avenue and the Zocalo. But on Sunday, police chief Joel Ortega indicated his patience was wearing thin.

                      "Everything has a limit,'' he told a news conference.

                      Lopez Obrador's supporters were enraged by the tribunal's ruling against their demands for a ballot-by-ballot recount, which they argue will show the leftist was the true winner of the election.

                      "We don't want anybody except him as president,'' said protester Maria Acosta, 52, a Mexico City housewife. "The people are tired. We are not going to allow this fraud. The people are not going to allow it. We will take this as far as is necessary.''

                      An official count found that conservative Felipe Calderon of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party has an advantage of less than 0.6 percent, or about 240,000 votes.

                      The tribunal has until Sept. 6 to declare a president-elect or annul the vote. The partial recount could swing the vote in favor of Lopez Obrador, if electoral officials - supervised by judges - find evidence of widespread problems.

                      The Federal Electoral Institute, an autonomous agency often credited for bringing democracy to Mexico, has said the election was clean and fair and defended the work of thousands of volunteer poll workers. Most international observers have said they did not note major problems.

                      The election has divided the nation along class and social lines. Lopez Obrador has promised to govern for the poor, while Calderon has the backing of the nation's growing middle classes and ruling elite.

                      Lopez Obrador accused the ruling party and its followers of trying to maintain its hold on power, recalling 71 years of one-party rule that ended with Fox's historic victory in 2000.

                      "The powerful ... have fed classism, racism and intolerance,'' he said, adding: "They have made - although they hypocritically try to hide it - the color of someone's skin and contempt for the poor and those under them, their main cause.''

                      Leaders of other parties supporting Lopez Obrador called on protesters to follow Fox and protest at every one of the president's public events.

                      Early Sunday, hundreds of Mexicans celebrated a Mass at Mexico City's Basilica, praying for unity, reconciliation and peace.

                      Mexican candidate ready for long battle


                      • #12
                        MEXICO CITY -- Electoral officials fanned out across the country Wednesday to begin a partial recount in Mexico's tight presidential election, while leftists alleging vote fraud blocked bank headquarters in the capital and vowed to take their disruptive protests nationwide.

                        Guarded by soldiers and monitored by electoral judges and representatives of all of Mexico's five political parties, authorities started sifting through ballots cast at 11,839 polling booths, about 9 percent of the 130,000 booths used during the July 2 election.

                        The count must wrap up by Sunday, after which the Federal Electoral Tribunal will review the results and decide by Sept. 6 whether to declare a president-elect or annul the election.

                        The initial results gave Felipe Calderon, the pro-business candidate of conservative President Vicente Fox's National Action Party, a lead of 240,000 votes, or less than 1 percent, over leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, former mayor of Mexico City.

                        The partial count could change those results, but it was considered unlikely to tip the balance in favor of Lopez Obrador, whose supporters have been disrupting life in the capital for more than a week to press their charge he was robbed of an election victory by fraud.

                        Calderon welcomed the partial recount, saying it would cement his advantage.

                        But Lopez Obrador dismissed the action as a farce and said his loyalists would continue their demonstrations unless authorities ordered a vote-by-vote recount of all 41 million ballots.

                        Across Mexico, electoral officials sliced open seals placed over doorways and pulled tape off doorknobs to reopen storage rooms holding the paper ballots cast July 2.

                        Officials then began opening sealed polling packages to sift through ballots and read the tallies from polling stations. They were looking for mathematical errors, evidence of fraud, ballots that should have been thrown out, or ballots that were mistakenly annulled.

                        At the 12th federal electoral district in Mexico City, Judge Julio Humberto Hernandez, party representatives and six soldiers watched as officials spent nearly 90 minutes counting ballots from the first of 28 packages they were ordered to review.

                        The end result: One less vote for Calderon and one more for Lopez Obrador, a total of 11 votes more all together than what workers reported immediately after the election, and five null votes instead of the initially reported seven.

                        "This is proof that they did things badly," said Agustin Guerrero, a representative of Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party who witnessed the recount.

                        He said such discrepancies would be important for "continuing to argue that they open up all of the election packages."

                        Ricardo Monreal, who is leading Lopez Obrador's legal challenges before the Federal Electoral Tribunal, said party officials contend about 40 percent of ballot boxes "were altered ... illegally adjusted" after the election.

                        Monreal held out hope that irregularities found in the recount could serve to order a broader examination of "a minimum of 72,000 polling places," while Democratic Revolution Party spokesman Gerardo Fernandez continued to insist only a full recount would be acceptable.

                        The seven judges of the Federal Electoral Tribunal voted unanimously Saturday to deny a full review, saying it would violate election laws that allow recounts only when there is evidence of irregularities or fraud. They instead ordered the partial recount, at polling places where they deemed problems were evident.

                        The decision prompted Lopez Obrador to call on his supporters to escalate protests from the tent camps they set up along Mexico City's main Reforma Avenue and at the central Zocalo plaza July 30, snarling traffic and commerce and trying the patience of many of the capital area's 23 million people.

                        On Wednesday, dozens of Lopez Obrador supporters blocked the entrance to the main offices of three foreign-owned banks in Mexico City, chanting "Vote by Vote!" and "Long live democracy!"

                        The demonstrations came a day after protesters briefly took over toll booths on highways leading into the capital, allowing motorists free passage.

                        "We ask for understanding of these disturbances we are causing because we are building democracy, because we want things to change and because it isn't enough to just stay quiet," said Gilberto Ensastiga, a representative of Lopez Obrador's party who led demonstrations in front of the British-owned HSBC bank on Reforma Avenue.

                        Fellow protest leader Edgar Torres said demonstrators would move elsewhere Thursday, but he declined to detail their plans.

                        Ensastiga reiterated Lopez Obrador's promise to expand the protest movement across the country.

                        "You will see more in the north, in the center and in the south," he said.

                        Mexico starts partial recount of vote


                        • #13
                          MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Leftist demonstrators claiming electoral fraud blocked access to Mexico's main tax office on Friday, hitting the government in the pocket for backing Felipe Calderon, the winner of the election.

                          Several thousand protesters waving banners in support of leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador surrounded the building, run by the Finance Ministry, and prevented employees from entering for several hours.

                          Leftists have targeted banks and highway toll booths this week to demand a total recount of the election, narrowly won by conservative ruling party candidate Calderon.

                          Lopez Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, said the ministry was in league with business groups that financed Calderon's campaign.

                          "The Finance Ministry is one of the key points in the financing of the electoral fraud," said Marti Batres, head of the party in the capital.

                          Calderon, who believes a court will soon name him president, called for an end to the marches.

                          "Mexico will not advance with handouts, with tricks or with tension," he told a meeting of factory owners. "Mexico will advance with the work of all Mexicans. Let's get to work."

                          Several hundred Lopez Obrador followers protested outside studios of Televisa network., and pasted a poster reading "No To Lies" over an entrance.

                          Protests were stepped up after a court last weekend ordered a recount of votes from 9 percent of polling stations, rather than the full recount sought by Lopez Obrador.

                          The leftist called on foreigners to pressure the court to order a recount of all 40 million or so votes.

                          "We need the goodwill and support of those in the international community with a personal, philosophical or commercial interest in Mexico to encourage it to do the right thing and allow a full recount," Lopez Obrador said in an editorial in Friday's The New York Times.

                          He said his street protests, which have paralyzed the city center for almost two weeks, were in the tradition of peaceful civil resistance.

                          "In the spirit of Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we seek to make our voices heard. We lack millions for advertising to make our case," he wrote.

                          Electoral officials are due to finish the partial recount by the weekend.

                          The PRD representative to Mexico's electoral institute, Horacio Duarte, said votes had been tallied again at just under half of the nearly 12,000 polling stations involved in the recount. Most polling stations revised had inconsistencies, he said.

                          "Any change in these nearly 12,000 polling stations, even if it seems minimal, is a variation that can have an important impact," he said.

                          An earthquake of 6.0 magnitude that rattled Mexico City on Friday morning did not deter the protesters, many of whom have camped out in the vast Zocalo square in a giant sit-in.

                          "They are not going to get rid of us with an earthquake. The ones who are suffering a political quake are the PAN, the government and Felipe Calderon," Lopez Obrador's campaign manager Jesus Ortega said.

                          Financial markets have not been badly hit by the demonstrations.

                          The peso rose 0.75 percent, buoyed by news that Mexico will prepay $9 billion of debt with international lenders. Shares were up 1.13 percent.

                          Leftists protest at Mexico tax office, TV station


                          • #14
                            Mexico's opposition leader said on Friday a partial recount of votes from the presidential election he narrowly lost has shown so many errors that the top electoral court will have to declare him president-elect.

                            Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist who claims he was robbed in the July 2 election, said the recount of 9 percent of ballot boxes was only half complete but inconsistencies from the original tallies already topped 100,000 votes.

                            Conservative candidate Felipe Calderon won by 244,000 votes, or 0.58 of a percentage point, and his ruling party says the recounts are showing only minor changes in the results.

                            But Lopez Obrador, a fiery former mayor of Mexico City, said more than 40,000 votes had surfaced inside some ballot boxes and 60,000 disappeared from others.

                            He wants results annulled at those polling stations with the biggest irregularities. Many of them are in areas where Calderon won convincingly.

                            "What happens if the court applies the law and annuls those polling stations with grave irregularities? Well, the result is different," Lopez Obrador told thousands of supporters in Mexico City's vast Zocalo square on Friday night.

                            "So even with their own numbers ... they have to recognize that we won the presidency," he said.

                            Lopez Obrador's supporters have crippled central Mexico City for the past 12 days by setting up camps in the Zocalo and on the main boulevard that runs through its business district.

                            Their campaign also has included blockading the stock market building, the headquarters of international banks and government offices, as well as throwing open highway toll gates. They blocked access to Mexico's main tax office on Friday.

                            Calderon insists the vote was clean and believes the electoral court will soon name him president-elect. He called on Friday for an end to the marches.

                            "Mexico will not advance with handouts, with tricks or with tension," he told a meeting of factory owners. "Mexico will advance with the work of all Mexicans. Let's get to work."

                            The protests were stepped up after the electoral court last week ordered the partial recount of votes, rather than the full count being demanded by Lopez Obrador.

                            The recounts must be completed by Sunday. The court is then expected to decide whether or not to annul some results and order thousands more ballot boxes reopened.

                            Lopez Obrador warned he would not give up his fight even if the electoral court rules against him, while senior aides pressured the court to annul some results.

                            "These arithmetical inconsistencies are are emphatic proof of fraud," said Horacio Duarte, a senior aide to the leftist.

                            Saying his street protests were in the tradition of peaceful civil resistance, Lopez Obrador called on foreigners to press for a recount of all 41 million votes.

                            "In the spirit of Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we seek to make our voices heard," he wrote in Friday's New York Times.

                            Mexico's financial markets fear a long-running political crisis but have so far shrugged off the street demonstrations.

                            The peso currency rose 0.75 percent on Friday, buoyed by news that Mexico will prepay $9 billion of debt with international lenders. The stock market was up 1.13 percent.

                            Mexico leftist claims election recount proves fraud


                            • #15
                              Mexico poll protests turn violent


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