News / Americas

Mexico's Lopez Obrador to Run in 2012 Presidential Election

Mexico's former presidential candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador (l) embraces Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico City, Nov. 15,  2011.
Mexico's former presidential candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador (l) embraces Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico City, Nov. 15, 2011.

Former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he will make another run for the presidency in 2012, six years after he narrowly lost the last election.

The 58-year-old leftist made the comment Tuesday after winning an opinion poll released by his party, Democratic Revolution, or PRD.  The poll asked 6,000 supporters of left-wing candidates whether they preferred him or Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard.

In 2006, Lopez Obrador was defeated by current President Felipe Calderon, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a second, six-year term next year.

Lopez Obrador contested his loss, claiming vote fraud and charging that then-President Vicente Fox used the power of his office to support Mr. Calderon.  Mexico's electoral tribunal rejected Lopez Obrador's claims.  Lopez Obrador staged massive protests in the capital after the election.

Tuesday's announcement comes a day after preliminary results showed that the main opposition party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had won the governor's race in Michoacan, President Calderon's home state.  Its candidate, Fausto Vallejo, defeated the president's sister, Luisa Maria Calderon, of the ruling National Action Party, known as PAN.  The PRD's candidate, Silvano Aureoles, placed third following Sunday's vote.  The PRD has governed Michoacan for the past decade.

The PRI lost the presidency in 2000 to Vicente Fox after governing Mexico for 71 years.  Observers say the election outcome is set to boost the PRI ahead of next year's elections, which its likely candidate, Enrique Pena Nieto, currently is tipped to win.

Michoacan is the base of the drug cartel known as La Familia and is the region where a drug gang calling itself Knights Templar has emerged.  The president's sister had complained that armed gangs intimidated voters in some areas, while Aureoles, in a television interview, accused the PRI of working with cartels.  Vallejo was quoted as saying his supporters were subjected to threats as well.

The vote was dominated by concerns about security.  

An estimated 45,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since President Calderon took office in late 2006 and began a crackdown on the cartels.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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