View Full Version : Mexico City shut down by vote-protests

07-31-2006, 10:40 AM
Poll protests block Mexico City
BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5230972.stm)

The left-wing candidate in Mexico's disputed election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and his backers are occupying the capital's main square and avenues. Mr Lopez Obrador on Sunday called on his adherents to paralyse Mexico City until every vote was recounted.

Official results from the 2 July vote gave victory to the conservative Felipe Calderon by half a percentage point.

Mr Lopez Obrador alleges vote counts were rigged - but EU monitors have said they found no irregularities.

The country's electoral court has until the end of August to rule on a recount.


Chaos feared

Thousands of people are reported to have set up camp overnight in the historic Zocalo plaza and the Reforma boulevard, blocking traffic on one of the capital's main roads.

Click here to see map of centre of Mexico City (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5230972.stm#map)

While some set up tents and cots in preparation for a chilly night, others made do with strips of cardboard and blankets - or said they would pass the night dancing and singing. Some of the largest camping sites are reported to be located opposite the US Embassy, the stock market and the Polanco hotel zone.

Mr Lopez Obrador said he himself would be living in one of the dozens camping sites set up by his supporters. He said he would stay until the electoral tribunal gave its ruling on the recount he is demanding.

"I know what I propose is not easy, but it is essential for our cause," he said.

Local media say 1.5 million vehicles drive through the area daily, and there are fears the blockade will cause chaos in the city, which is home to some 20 million people.

Correspondents say police are unlikely to intervene, as Mexico City is governed by Mr Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party.

The blockade was set up after Mr Lopez Obrador led a mass march to the Zocalo square. Estimates of the attendance ranged from 500,000 to two million people. [Partridge: I heard the official police estimate was 2.4 million!]

As Mr Lopez Obrador rallied his supporters, ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon appeared before the electoral tribunal to argue that a full recount was unnecessary.

"I had powerful, very charismatic adversaries - but I won clearly," he told the panel of seven judges.

07-31-2006, 11:14 PM