Tue, Aug 15, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Lopez Obrador vows to fight to the last

NO BACKING DOWN The leftist presidential candidate called on his followers to join him for a fight that could last for years, starting with a large-scale rally on Sept. 1

AP , MEXICO CITY

Supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador participate in a rally on Sunday in Mexico City.

PHOTO: EPA

Mexico's leftist presidential candidate laid out plans for a long-term resistance movement that will constantly pressure the government for the next six years, amid growing signs that a recount will fail to reverse the lead of his conservative rival, Felipe Calderon.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told tens of thousands of followers at a protest camp in Mexico City's main square on Sunday to dig in for a fight that could possibly last for years, including the kinds of street demonstrations that have paralyzed the center of this metropolis of 20 million for the last two weeks.

"Shall we fight to the last?" he asked the crowd of tens of thousands of supporters. "Shall we stay here as long as it takes?"

The crowd screamed "Yes!"

He called for more large-scale protests on Sept. 1, when President Vicente Fox gives his last state-of-the-nation address, and on Sept. 6, the deadline for the country's top electoral court to name a president-elect.

The protesters remain convinced that fraud was involved in the official count that gave ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon a slight lead in the July 2 race, and that a full recount of all 41 million votes would swing the election in favor of Lopez Obrador.

Instead, the top electoral court ordered a recount of the 9 percent of the polling places with evidence of irregularities.

Lopez Obrador also announced plans to hold a "national democratic convention" on Sept. 16, Mexico's independence day, to "reform" the government.

"If the people's will is ignored by the rich and powerful, we must fight for a national renewal and the reform of the nation's institutions," Lopez Obrador said.

"Here and now, we are starting a new stage in the public life of Mexico ... we will carry out, with the power of the people, the changes this country needs," he said.

Street politics has a long tradition in Mexico, but it's unclear how this new effort will take shape. Lopez Obrador suggested it would be a long-term anti-government movement outside of electoral politics, a "watershed in Mexican history."

"He's going to do the only thing he can, which is to be a constant media presence, in permanent activism, for the next six years," according to political analyst Oscar Aguilar.

"He's going to be the new Marcos," Aguilar also said, referring to the media-savvy leader of the Zapatista rebels, who has continued protesting, with diminishing returns, since his Indian-rights movement staged a brief armed uprising in southern Chiapas state in 1994.

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