MEXICO CITY—Defeated presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed to continue his campaign of protests Saturday night after his petition for a total vote recount of the tight July 2 election was rejected by an electoral tribunal.
Speaking to several thousand supporters packed into the capital's historic square, the Zocalo, Lopez Obrador said he would announce specific measures Sunday morning.
The leftist former Mexico City mayor may call on followers to march through the city or stage sit-ins and blockades of strategic points, such as airports and highways.
"We have to keep resisting and struggling," he said to thunderous cheers and pumping fists of his supporters. "We are going to continue with our peaceful resistance movement. We do not want a privileged group treating the government as their service committee."
The tribunal voted unanimously earlier Saturday that it would recount less than 10 percent of the polling places in 149 voting districts. Lopez Obrador maintains that errors in vote tabulation and outright fraud caused him to lose the presidency to Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party by a margin of less than 1 percent, or 244,000 votes.
Lopez Obrador supporters said they will remain camped out along the Paseo de la Reforma, blocking access to the city's main boulevard, for as long it takes.
"We're staying here until 100 percent of the vote is recounted," said Eduardo Juarez of Mexico State.
The recount is scheduled to begin Wednesday and must be completed by the following Monday. The tribunal has until Sept. 6 to certify results of the election or order a new vote.
Lopez Obrador's supporters, many of whom come from Mexico's lower classes, started to mobilize as word of the tribunal's decision circulated. Scattered groups of protesters chanted "Andres Manuel, hold on, the people are rising up" as colleagues penned new placards and banners with slogans such as, "We Demand 100 Percent of the Vote," and "We Do Not Accept the Decision."
"We're going to keep up the resistance," said Victor Hugo Gutierrez, an official with the closely allied Convergence Party. "It's good news because now we have the chance to close the gap of 244,000 votes but we're going to stay until all the votes are recounted in their entirety or Lopez Obrador tells us what to do," Gutierrez said.
Political experts saw the tribunal's decision as attempting to meet Lopez Obrador halfway without putting the integrity of the electoral system in doubt.
"I see it as kind of a compromise outcome that responds to the heightened political tension in the country," said Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, who leads the Mexico project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
"To some extent, a vote-by-vote recount would have been a vote of no confidence in the system," he said. "This is now going to increase pressure on Lopez Obrador. Public opinion is going to see that the institutions are trying to respond responsibly, and he is going to be seen as acting out of blind political ambition."
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Need to map