Thu, May 25, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Officials accused of interfering in Mexican election

AP , MEXICO CITY

Mexico's largest leftist party accused top members of President Vicente Fox's government of helping send e-mails smearing its candidate, a day after it said Fox had interfered in elections by promoting his party's candidate.

The complaints, filed with federal officials, come as Democratic Revolution Party candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Felipe Calderon of the president's conservative party are locked in a tight race for the July 2 presidential vote. Fox is not allowed to run for a second term.

Late on Tuesday, Ricardo Monreal, a top adviser to Lopez Obrador, alleged that Labor Secretary Francisco Javier Salazar and Public Finance Secretary Eduardo Romero, as well as Fox's personal secretary, Emilio Goicoechea, were all involved in a smear campaign that included e-mails comparing their candidate to a donkey.

The complaint also named Francisco Garrido, the governor of central Queretaro state, of conspiring to aid Calderon.

Monreal filed his charges with Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca's office's special prosecutor in charge of elections. He said he gave investigators documents showing that more than 7,000 anti-Lopez Obrador e-mails were sent out from government offices.

One of the messages Monreal turned over to reporters features a photograph of a donkey wearing a sombrero, flanked by the message: "We beg the pardon of donkeys for comparing them to such a disastrous politician as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador."

"This demonstrates simply and clearly that since January, the `dirty war' against Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has come from the presidency of the republic and its highest public servants," Monreal said.

The accusations came a day after the national director of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, Leonel Cota, filed charges with federal prosecutors alleging the president had worked to further the cause of Calderon, the candidate of Fox's National Action Party's candidate.

Mexican law restricts presidents from direct involvement in campaigns to replace them, a policy that emerged as a backlash against a long history of having presidents select their successors and rigging elections. Reforms gradually ended those practice by the early 1990s.

Fox has not spoken publicly about Democratic Revolution's accusations, but in a national TV address on Monday said he would refrain from taping any more radio or TV ads promoting his administration's accomplishments until after the poll -- in part to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

In a copy of Monreal's complaint distributed to reporters, the name of the head of the Federal Electoral Institute appears among those who have conspired against Lopez Obrador, as well as a lower-ranking electoral institute official. But Monreal said his leftist party decided to drop those names from the formal charges it submitted as a "sign of good faith" toward electoral officials.

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