Calderon Calls for Calm After Win in Mexico

The Associated Press
Friday, July 7, 2006; 8:59 PM

MEXICO CITY -- Conservative Felipe Calderon spoke of his hopes for a U.S. immigration accord and took a congratulatory call from President Bush Friday, while his leftist rival laid plans to deny him Mexico's presidency and called for nationwide protests against the election results.

Acting as if his presidential victory was secure, the conservative politician vowed to improve the lives of Mexicans both at home and in the United States.

But the country's top elections court has yet to declare him president-elect, and chief rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador began mobilizing coast-to-coast street protests demanding a recount of every one of the 41.8 million votes cast in Sunday's presidential vote.

Besides Bush, Calderon spoke with Mexican President Vicente Fox as well as world leaders that included the prime ministers of Spain and Canada, officials said.

Cheerful and confident in a meeting with foreign reporters, Calderon said he would support immigration reforms in Washington "so that ideas of segregation and marginalization of Mexicans don't permeate common life in the United States."

Calderon also vowed to close the gap between rich and poor and work to create "relief programs" designed to help Mexican farmers who will be hurt when a clause under the North American Free Trade Agreement allows for U.S. corn and bean imports in 2008.

But he said he has no plans to try and renegotiate NAFTA.

"I don't see broad probabilities that the winner of a renegotiation would be Mexico," he said.

Calderon denied that Lopez Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City who trailed by just 240,000 votes in the official count, would pose an obstacle to his new government, or that the disputed vote count would destabilize Mexico.

But Lopez Obrador was laying the foundation for a long, tough fight.

His Democratic Revolution Party plans to take the matter to the Federal Electoral Tribunal, alleging that Calderon led the vote count through fraud at thousands of polling places and campaign meddling by Fox and business groups, advisers said.

There were scattered protests in favor of the leftist candidate but the capital was calm. Lopez Obrador, who has a history of mobilizing millions, first called on his supporters to turn out Saturday in Mexico City's main square.

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© 2006 The Associated Press