Mexican presidential rival refuses to concede defeat

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 12:28

Mexico City: Hours after Mexico`s presumed president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, said it was time for his country to leave behind the political rancor of campaign season, his closest opponent in the polls refused to concede and said the vote had been "plagued by irregularities."

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who election authorities projected as the runner-up in Sunday`s presidential vote, said Monday that he was awaiting the official election results, and prepared to contest them before judicial authorities if they didn`t turn out in his favor.

"We can`t accept a fraudulent result," he told supporters Monday evening, a reference to his allegations that Pena Nieto exceeded campaign spending limits, bought votes in some states and benefited from favorable coverage in Mexico`s semi-monopolized television industry.

Lopez Obrador said he will likely challenge Sunday`s vote results, but didn`t say if he would try to repeat nearly two months of street blockades in Mexico City that he led in 2006 to protest a narrow loss to Calderon that he attributed to fraud.

Lopez Obrador`s party actually did better in this election than polls had projected, winning apparent victories in three of the seven state elections Sunday. The PRD was on track to win an overwhelming victory in Mexico City, the nation`s capital and largest city, as well as taking the governorships of Morelos state to the south and the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, both of which were held by other parties. The PRI appeared to have taken the governorship of the western state of Jalisco from the National Action Party.

His supporters protested nationwide. In Mexico City, they staged sit-ins and blockades.

Obrador also called on his supporters to wait for the official results. The Federal Election Institute`s verification of individual poll results begins Wednesday.

Earlier, Peña Nieto, who election authorities projected as the winner of Sunday`s presidential vote, said that he was ready to work across party lines to build a better Mexico.
A quick count based on samples from polling stations throughout the country gave Peña Nieto the lead, with between 37.93% and 38.55% of votes, the Federal Election Institute said late Sunday night.

On Monday, the presumed president-elect said he had been receiving congratulatory phone calls and messages from world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

Peña Nieto said he was unfazed by the fact that more than 50% of Mexicans had not voted for him.
The projected victory for Peña Nieto marks a triumphant return to power for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which lost its grip on Mexico`s presidency to the conservative National Action Party in 2000.

Despite winning the presidency, the PRI may actually lose seats in Congress. The PRI-led coalition with the Green Party had about 38 percent of the congressional vote, with 95 percent of ballots counted Monday. The coalition won about 46 percent in the last legislative vote three years ago.



First Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 12:27

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