Members of the Federal Electoral Tribunal attend a session in Mexico City, Aug. 30, 2012.
Members of the Federal Electoral Tribunal attend a session in Mexico City, Aug. 30, 2012.
Mexico's highest electoral court, late Thursday, rejected a legal bid to overturn Enrique Pena Nieto's victory in the July 1 presidential election, paving the way for the centrist to begin his six-year term in December.

Pena Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, were accused by runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of laundering money and buying votes to secure a victory, but the judges said there was insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

Lopez Obrador, a leftist former mayor of Mexico City, said the PRI bought 5 million votes with illegal funding and supplied voters with presents such as supermarket gift cards, fertilizer, cement and even farm animals.

But Justice Flavio Galvan dismissed evidence submitted by the leftist coalition regarding purported abuses by Pena Nieto's campaign as "vague, generic and imprecise."

The unanimous ruling by the seven-member Federal Electoral Tribunal will return the PRI to power after it lost the presidency for the first time in 71 years in the 2000 elections. The PRI had governed Mexico with an authoritarian hand, but Pena Nieto has promised to break with his party's nefarious past.

Outside the courthouse, about 200 demonstrators shouted their disapproval when the decision was announced.

The protests tapped into memories of the PRI's long rule in Mexico, which lasted between 1929 and 2000 and was frequently dogged by allegations of corruption and vote-rigging.

Pena Nieto won the election with 38.2 percent of the vote compared to 31.6 percent for his challenger, who lost by 3.3 million ballots. He rejected the claims of Lopez Obrador, who also unsuccessfully challenged 2006 election results. He lost that year by less than 1 percentage point.

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

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