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Mexico: Lopez Obrador 'Will Not Accept' Election Ruling Favoring Calderón


Mexico's top electoral court has thrown out allegations of massive fraud in last month's presidential election, handing almost certain victory to conservative Felipe Calderón.

Leftist challenger Andrés Manuel López Obrador says the judges' unanimous rejection of his complaints is "offensive and unacceptable for millions of Mexicans." He vowed not to recognize a government led by Calderón and the ruling National Action Party.

The seven-judge Federal Electoral Tribunal reported it examined 375 challenges to the July 2 election, and discarded about one-half of one percent of the 41 million ballots, due to irregularities. The court said it found no evidence of massive fraud, or any indication that further recounts would tip the election from Calderón to López Obrador.

The court's action cost each of the two main presidential candidates roughly the same amount of votes, and shaved fewer than 5,000 votes from Calderón's reported victory margin. Earlier tabulations had shown the former energy minister winning by 244,000 votes - less than six-tenths of one percent.

The electoral tribunal's rulings are final and cannot be appealed. The judges still must report whether the entire election was fair and certify the winner, but Monday's rulings suggest those declarations - due by September 6 - are now a formality.

If Calderón is named president-elect, he would replace Mexico's outgoing head of state, Vicente Fox, on December 1.

López Obrador had been asking for a full recount of all ballots cast last month, on the grounds that massive vote fraud tipped the election to his opponent. The president of the electoral tribunal, Leonel Castillo, is quoted by Reuters as saying those claims are "completely unfounded."

Members of López Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution have been protesting the election results for weeks, with rallies and acts of civil disobedience, including a continuing blockade of the main avenue in downtown Mexico City.

López Obrador is calling for a national assembly on September 16 in the the capital's main square, the Plaza de la Constitución, to decide the future of his supporters' civil disobedience campaign. He has suggested the assembly could name him president of an alternative government.

Calderón pledged Monday that his administration would work to ease class differences in Mexico by helping low-income groups such as sugar cane workers, peasant farmers, artisans and indigenous people. The 44-year-old candidate of the ruling National Action Party says he will strive to create "one single, strongly developed Mexico with solid economic growth."