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Loser in Mexico's Presidential Ballot Continues 'Civil Unrest'

  • Susana Seijas

Thousands of people gathered to hear Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the Zocalo, Mexico City's main square. Lopez Obrador, who lost the election by a narrow margin, has vowed to keep on protesting on the streets as ¨long as it takes¨ if electoral officials declare his rival, conservative Felipe Calderon, the winner of last month's presidential election.

It has been 22 days since Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Revolutionary Democratic Party, or P.R.D, called on his supporters to set up camps in the heart of Mexico City in demand of a full recount of 41 million ballots from last month's presidential election.

Only last week, Mexican riot police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who rallied outside Congress in support of Lopez Obrador.

On Sunday, while people in the southern state of Chiapas went to the polls to elect a governor, Lopez Obrador spoke out against the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ran Mexico for seven decades, and the National Action Party, or PAN, which formed a coalition to put up a joint candidate in Chiapas. He says the only purpose of the coalition is to defend privileges, not to make changes for the better.

What happens in Chiapas is important to Lopez Obrador. A defeat in Mexico´s poorest state, analysts say, could weaken his national protest movement to stop Felipe Caldereon from taking office.

Lopez Obrador has vowed to keep his street protests going. He said he plans to disrupt President Vicente Fox´s annual state of the union address to Congress on September 1 and to stop the Federal electoral Tribunal from delivering a document to Felipe Calderon making him president on September 6.

He has also threatened to interrupt the Independence Day celebrations September 15, and has called a "national democratic convention" for September 16, the day the Mexican army hold an annual parade. His strategy has raised fears of confrontations between police and protesters.

The Federal Electoral Tribunal ordered a recount in nine percent of the country's 130,000 polling places. The recount has been completed but the results have not been made public - the Tribunal has until September 6th to certify a winner.
Cecilia Plazolo, a 58-year-old nurse sleeping in one of the tents in the Zocalo says Lopez Obrador is the only politician who has ever cared for Mexico´s poor.

"I´ve always been sad when I see malnourished kids, I always asked when can we find a president who cares about the poor? I´ve been supporting Lopez Obrador for a while," she said.

Lopez Obrador´s demand for a full vote-by-vote recount appears unlikely, but he says his campaign of resistance will continue.

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