Partial recount does not go far enough for Mexican left

Click to follow

Mexico's left-wing presidential candidate called for more street protests to demand a full recount in the country's disputed election on 2 July, despite the federal electoral court's ruling that only a partial, ballot-by-ballot review was necessary.

The tribunal decided on Saturday that granting Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's request for a full recount would violate electoral laws that prohibit recounts unless there is evidence of irregularities or fraud. Instead, the court's seven judges voted in favor of a recount of 11,839 polling places - about 9 per cent of the more than 130,000 nationwide - where they determined that problems were evident.

Aides of Mr Lopez Obrador's rival, the conservative ruling party candidate, Felipe Calderon, applauded the ruling. Mr Calderon has an advantage of less than 0.6 per cent, or about 240,000 votes, according to an official count.

The decision angered Mr Lopez Obrador's millions of supporters. In a speech late on Saturday, he urged them to remain calm and fortify protest camps that have blocked Mexico City's main Reforma Avenue and Zocalo square for a week.

"We are going to continue our peaceful, civil resistance movement," he said, adding that the tribunal's judges were "legally weak".

He then spent his seventh straight night in a tent in the Zocalo square, rising early yesterday and heading to his apartment to shower.

The recount will begin on Wednesday and will last up to five days. Electoral judges will oversee the process, and the tribunal has until 6 September to declare a president-elect or annul the vote.

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

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

Since the election, Mr Lopez Obrador has accused President Vicente Fox of influencing the vote. He has called the Mexican leader a "traitor to democracy" and electoral officials "criminals," and even accused some of his own party officials of taking bribes to plot against him. Mr Fox's historic victory in 2000 ended 71 years of one-party rule.

In the tribunal's session on Saturday, chief justice Leonel Castillo argued that Mexico's political parties had a chance to raise concerns when the results were first counted at polling places on election day and again when the tally sheets were added up during the week following the vote. "We all want certainty ... and that's what we have with these results," Mr Castillo said.

Mr Lopez Obrador's supporters seized control of Mexico City's cultural and financial heart on 30 July. Braving nearly nightly rainstorms and even flooding at the height of Mexico's monsoon, they have refused to leave. Some of the left-winger's supporters have threatened to block access to Mexico City's international airport. More federal police have been assigned to guard the sprawling complex.