Fox voices support for Calderon, slams leftist Lopez Obrador

AP , OAXACA and MEXICO CITY

Thu, Aug 24, 2006 - Page 6

President Vicente Fox said on Tuesday that Mexicans do not support "extremist" and "messianic" politics, in a thinly veiled slap at a leftist candidate who has launched street blockades to pressure for a full recount of last month's presidential election.

Fox's comments came a day after he told foreign journalists that his ruling-party ally, Felipe Calderon, was the "clear winner" of the disputed July 2 vote -- his strongest statement yet about the political crisis that has gripped Mexico for weeks.

Since July 31, supporters of leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have snarled the capital with round-the-clock protest camps, blocking streets and launching demonstrations to protest what they claim was electoral fraud that gave Calderon a narrow lead in official vote tallies.

"What we Mexicans want is stability, order and harmony," Fox said. "Society rejects extremist solutions, and messianic or apocalyptic visions that belong to the political culture of the past."

Analysts have frequently used the term "messianic" to describe Lopez Obrador, citing his followers' fervent devotion and the leftist's belief in his own personal sense of mission.

Meanwhile, in Oaxaca, masked men shot a protester dead as escalating violence increased pressure on Fox to intervene in a three-month-long protest by leftists and striking teachers.

Thousands of protesters calling for Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz's resignation have occupied the southern city's center, stealing buses, setting up barricades and taking over radio and television stations to broadcast revolutionary messages. The protest started on May 22.

On Tuesday, a group of about 15 men in three cars, one with a logo of the city police department, drove up to a private radio station that has been occupied by protesters and sprayed the building with gunfire.

Protester Lorenzo Pablo, a 52-year-old architect, was hit and died. He was the second protester this month to be killed in the city.

A short time later, masked men fired on the car of freelance photographer Luis Hernandez, who had been at the scene of the earlier shooting. Hernandez was unharmed.