Tribunal: Calderon Is Mexico's Next President A seven-judge tribunal in Mexico unanimously declares Felipe Calderon the winner of the contested July 2 presidential vote. Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says the ruling won't stop protests that have paralyzed Mexico City.
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Tribunal: Calderon Is Mexico's Next President

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Tribunal: Calderon Is Mexico's Next President

Tribunal: Calderon Is Mexico's Next President

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Felipe Calderon has been declared president elect of Mexico. That after a bruising battle that went up to the country's highest electoral court. Today, that tribunal ruled that the July 2 vote was free and fair, and it upheld Calderon's razor-thin victory.

The court's decision is final and cannot be appealed, but as NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports, that doesn't mean that Mexico's troubles are over.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: After months of protests and claims and counterclaims and legal maneuverings, it came down to this.

Unidentified Man #1: (Speaking foreign language)

Unidentified Man #2: (Speaking foreign language)

Unidentified Man #3: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: One by one the seven judges tribunal voted and their decision was unanimous. Justice Leonel Castillo read the final judgment.

Justice LEONEL CASTILLO (Federal Electoral Tribunal, Mexico): (Through translator) The candidate with the most votes in the Mexican presidential elections is citizen Felipe Calderon. Two, the election was valid. Three, Felipe Calderon is eligible for election. Fourth, we declare Felipe Calderon president elect for the United States of Mexico for the period of December 1, 2006 to November 30, 2012.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In the lengthy resolution that was read out, the court painstakingly went through all the legal challenges brought forth by leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and struck them down one by one. While it said that attack ads portraying Lopez Obrador as a danger to Mexico had an impact, they were not enough to change the direction of the vote. They ruled that there were no subliminal messages in support of Calderon being sent out in popular soap operas or business ads.

They did censure President Vicente Fox for putting the election at risk with his comments on the campaign but again said that there was not enough cause to annul the election. In fact, said Flavio Galvan(ph), who read out the ruling, Lopez Obrador might have only himself to blame for losing.

Mr. FLAVIO GALVAN (Mexican Presidential Announcer): (Through translator) The candidate in question on many occasions expressed himself against a number of institutions and the people that work in them. The aggression and lack of respect towards the authorities and institutions may have had a negative effect on those who were considering voting for him.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Judge after judge reiterated their faith in the system and said that while the election wasn't perfect, it was to be upheld.

(Soundbite of political demonstration)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Outside the tribunal, hundreds of Lopez Obrador supporters cried out in rage when the decision was made final. Demonstrator Laura Castellan(ph) was among them.

Mr. LAURO CASTELLAN (Resident, Mexico): (Through translator) What we the people are going to do is commit acts of resistance so that Calderon will realize he cannot govern and resigns.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Their leader, Lopez Obrador, is calling for continued protests and says he will set up an alternative government, and his party has vowed to block Calderon's inauguration in Congress like they blocked Vicente Fox from giving his state of the union address last week.

(Soundbite of political demonstration)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lopez Obrador spoke in front of supporters chanting his name last night, and again he vowed to continue to the fight for change.

Mr. ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR (Former Presidential Candidate, Mexico): (Through translator) Once and for all we can transform this country, toss aside this spent regime of privilege and corruption and establish a republic where the people are the primary interest.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This has been a bitter election, and there were no celebrations outside Calderon's headquarters. The president elect came out with his wife to briefly wave to reporters, but there was a dearth of his supporters. Calderon aide Arturo Sarukhan says that Calderon and his party want to mend fences.

Mr. ARTURO SARUKHAN (Mexican presidential aide): Mr. Lopez Obrador will certainly not go away, and the issues that he addressed during the campaign will have to become issues.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: At the tribunal, the chief justice ended the session with these final words.

Justice CASTILLO: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He said after the tempest comes the calm. Lopez Obrador promises there will be anything but.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Mexico City.

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