Mexican Vows 'Resistance' in Recount Push

The Associated Press
Sunday, July 16, 2006; 9:56 PM

-- MEXICO CITY _ Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a vast crowd of supporters Sunday to wage a campaign of "civil resistance" to push for a manual recount of the election that he claims his conservative opponent won by fraud.

Lopez Obrador did not say what the campaign should entail, but the term "civil resistance" in Mexico often has meant protest camps and street blockades.

A crowd of more than 300,000 jammed the capital's central plaza, spilling down the city's main avenue for at least 1.5 miles and chanting "Vote by vote!" _ the slogan of the recount campaign.

A recount is needed "for the economic, political and financial stability of the country," a stern-faced Lopez Obrador said, casting the coming days as "decisive days, days in which all will be tested."

"To defend democracy, we are going to be beginning peaceful civil resistance," he said.

The pro-Lopez Obrador city government estimated the crowd, packing the plaza for the second weekend in a row, at 1.1 million, although it appeared much smaller.

Felipe Calderon of President Vicente Fox's conservative National Action Party led the July 2 election by about 244,000 votes _ roughly 0.6 percent _ in official returns. By law, he cannot be declared president-elect until the nation's electoral court rules on challenges to the election.

The court has until Aug. 31 to rule on appeals and until Sept. 6 to name a winner.

Recounts usually rely on election night tallies from each polling place, and Calderon says there is no legal basis for a complete recount. He is building a transition team and planning a nationwide victory tour.

Lopez Obrador's party has issued an 836-page appeal to the electoral court, alleging ballot stuffing, illicit government and corporate help for Calderon and other irregularities. The National Action Party has filed its own challenges, seeking to stretch Calderon's advantage.

Monitors from the European Union have said they found no irregularities in the count.

Lopez Obrador has promised to keep convening massive marches until there is a vote-by-vote tally.

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