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Mexico court rejects bid to scrap presidential vote

31 august 2012, 17:00
0
Mexico's electoral tribunal rejected Thursday a left-wing bid to overturn the presidential election win of Enrique Pena Nieto, as protesters shouted "fraud" and threw stones at the court, AFP reports.

One by one, the tribunal's seven judges rebuffed claims by leftist runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that Pena Nieto's party bought millions of votes, exceeded campaign spending limits and received biased news coverage.

"The request to invalidate the election is groundless," court president Jose Alejandro Luna Ramos told a packed courtroom at the end of a session that lasted more than five hours.

The ruling clears the way for Pena Nieto to be formally declared president-elect and begin his six-year term on December 1, returning the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to power after a 12-year absence.

The PRI governed Mexico with an authoritarian hand for 71 years until it lost the 2000 presidential election, but Pena Nieto has promised to break with his party's nefarious past.

"It is time to begin a new phase of work in favor of Mexico," he wrote on Twitter after the ruling. "We move forward. Through dialogue, understanding and agreements, we move together for the unity and greatness of Mexico."

Lopez Obrador, backed by the Progressive Movement coalition, has accused the PRI of returning to its old ways in order to secure Pena Nieto's victory in the July 1 election.

"It is better to invalidate the election. Not doing so is attacking democracy and opting for corruption," Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, tweeted hours before the ruling.

Lopez Obrador's campaign manager Ricardo Monreal denounced the judges as a "band of scoundrels" as it became clear that they would reject the challenge.

Outside the court, some 300 protesters shouted "Mexico without the PRI," brought down barriers and threw water bottles, corncobs and stones toward the court, as riot police watched passively.

Pena Nieto, who has rejected his opponent's allegations, won the election with 38.2 percent of the vote compared to 31.6 percent for Lopez Obrador, who lost by 3.3 million ballots.

"We had free and genuine elections," said Judge Salvador Olimpo Nava Gomar. "Mexico will have a president elected by the people, the citizen Enrique Pena Nieto."

Lopez Obrador claimed that the PRI bought five million votes, including by distributing gift cards for a retail store. His coalition also charged that children were sent to polling stations to check how people voted.

"There is no proof of vote-buying, there is no proof of coercion," said Judge Flavio Galvan Rivera.

Before the ruling, PRI officials called on opponents to end the squabbling.

"People are fed up with the fight between political parties and candidates," said Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada, the PRI's representative at the Federal Electoral Institute, the body that organizes elections.

Lopez Obrador ran for president in the previous election of 2006 and never recognized those results after he lost to Felipe Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), by a mere 0.06 percentage points.

He led massive protests but was unable to change the outcome.

Pena Nieto will inherit from Calderon a brutal drug war that has left more than 50,000 people dead since 2006. Calderon did not run due to term limits.

The movement #Yosoy132, which organized protests against Pena Nieto during this year's campaign, has warned that it will lead a "funeral (march) to bury democracy" following the court ruling.

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