Obrador Supporters Press for Vote Recount
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Now to news from Mexico. Mexicans voted for president weeks ago, but the election fight continues even today. The ruling party candidate, Felipe Calderon, was declared the winner in a very close election. Still, Leftist candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador his supporters have refused to accept defeat. Today, protestors are camped out in Mexico's national capital demanding a full recount.
Michael O'Boyle reports from Mexico City.
(Soundbite of protestors)
MICHAEL O'BOYLE reporting:
It's 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning in the heart of the capital's financial district and this street would normally be jammed with rush hour traffic, but instead it's clogged with protestors. Supporters of Leftist candidate Andres Manual Lopez Obrador have blocked the road with cars and tents and strung up banners declaring their candidate president of Mexico.
Maria Elsa Ponso, a 52 year-old official in Lopez Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution, has been manning one of the blockades since last night.
Ms. MARIA PONSO (Party of the Democratic Revolution): (Through Translator) We want them clean up this election. They may have been able to fool us in the past, but not now. We want to see a vote-by-vote recount. Felipe Calderon doesn't want them to recount the vote because there is a fraud.
O'BOYLE: On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of Lopez Obrador's supporters poured onto the streets and into the capital's central plaza. The crowd ranged from young students to widowed housewives, and many were among Mexico's poorest. At the rally, Lopez Obrador repeated his allegations that he was robbed of the presidency by fraud. He called for continual protests until the nation's electoral court orders a full recount.
Mr. ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR (Presidential Candidate, Mexico): (Through Translator) I propose that we stay here. That we stay here day and night until they recount the votes and that we have a president-elect with the legal minimum that we Mexicans deserve. I inform you that I too will live in this place while we are in permanent assembly.
O'BOYLE: As Lopez Obrador was leading his rally in the plaza, his opponent, Calderon, was working to convince the court that a recount was unnecessary. He challenged the judges not to bow to Lopez Obrador's pressure tactics.
Mr. FELIPE CALDERON (Presidential Candidate, Mexico): (Through Translator) The judgment that Mexico should make is not if the election was democratic or not. It was. The criteria should be whether our differences about what happened will be resolved with mobilizations and pressures or with reason and the law. We believe in the force of reason and not in the reason of force.
O'BOYLE: Mexico has a long history of electoral fraud. But reforms during the last 15 years had established internationally respected electoral institutions here. International observers said Mexico's vote appeared fair. Now the disputed election will be decided by the nation's federal electoral tribunal. The court has until the end of August to deliberate and must declare a winner by September 6th.
For NPR News, I'm Michael O'Boyle in Mexico City.
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