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Mexico leader gets no applause, and plenty of online flak

05 february 2015, 14:31

 Mexico's embattled President Enrique Pena Nieto has sparked a social media storm over an off-the-cuff remark he made about not getting applauded after announcing new anti-graft measures, AFP reports.

The phrase, which can be translated to "I already know they don't applaud" or "I already know you don't applaud," was said Tuesday at the end of his televised speech announcing an investigation into his family's purchase of luxurious homes from government contractors.

It was unclear whether his comment was made in jest or as a complaint at the assembled media, but it became a top trending topic on Twitter in Mexico with the hashtag #YaSeQueNoAplauden -- Spanish for his controversial phrase.

Memes appeared online of Pena Nieto clamoring for applause. An editorial cartoon in the newspaper Reforma showed the public service minister designated to investigate Pena Nieto's home purchase holding an "applause" sign next to the president.

Presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez declined to comment on the online frenzy, saying "the content of the (anti-corruption) message seems much more important to me."

"I won't comment about the color of his shoes or his tie or any other trivial thing," he told AFP.

The president's comment was reminiscent of a gaffe made by his attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, last year to end a press conference about the investigation into the presumed massacre of 43 college students by gang-linked police.

Murillo Karam's phrase, which can be translated to "I've had enough" or "I'm tired," turned viral with the Spanish hashtag #YaMeCanse, and it became a catchphrase at protests over the government's handling of the case.

Already under fire over the student tragedy, Pena Nieto has also battled conflict of interest allegations over homes that he, his wife and his finance minister bought from companies that have won government contracts.

Pena Nieto sought to put an end to the controversy by announcing the investigation on Tuesday.

But experts said the president should have called for an independent investigation instead of putting it in the hands of the public service ministry.

Pena Nieto, his wife and Finance Minister Luis Videgaray have denied any wrongdoing.

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