Mexico’s top electoral court to hold first public session in disputed presidential race
MEXICO CITY – After weeks of closed-door deliberations that will determine Mexico’s next leader, the nation’s top electoral court on Friday prepared to hold its first open session on the country’s disputed presidential race.The session, scheduled to begin Saturday morning, will give this divided nation its first look at how the Federal Electoral Tribunal plans to deal with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s allegations of widespread fraud and dirty campaign practices in the July 2 election.The leftist Lopez Obrador is demanding a full ballot-by-ballot recount, which he says will show he won the race. An official count, still uncertified by the court, gave ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon an advantage of less than 0.6 percent, or about 240,000 votes.The tribunal has until Sept. 6 to declare a president-elect or annul the elections entirely.The seven judges will begin by ruling on 174 allegations of fraud, filed by Lopez Obrador’s lawyers. Those rulings will likely determine whether they will order a full or partial recount.Gerardo Fernandez, a spokesman for Lopez Obrador’s Democratic Revolution Party, said he expects the court to decide before Monday on the recount request, and that party officials have no idea how the court would rule.Representatives for Calderon were not immediately available for comment Friday, but the conservative candidate has called the elections clean and fair, and argued that a full recount would violate Mexican law.The race was the closest presidential contest in Mexican history – Calderon’s lead amounts to less than two votes per polling place – reflecting a nation sharply divided along class and social lines.Lopez Obrador has promised to govern for the poor, while Calderon has the backing of the nation’s growing middle and elite classes, many of whom want to protect the new homes and cars they have been able to purchase with falling interest rates.Supporters of Lopez Obrador have seized control of the city’s cultural and financial heart, setting up protest camps on the elegant Reforma Avenue and in the city’s main Zocalo plaza and snarling traffic for nearly a week. Braving nearly nightly rainstorms and even flooding, they say they won’t leave until the tribunal rules on their demands.
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