Friday, August 11, 2006

Mexican Election Protest Blockades Treasury Office

MEXICO CITY -- Supporters of populist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador blockaded Mexico's Treasury Department on Thursday as electoral officials conducted a partial recount of the disputed presidential election.

The Federal Electoral Institute levied about $6.7 million in fines on all five parties that fielded candidates, citing errors or irregularities in their 2005 financial reports. López Obrador's Democratic Revolutionary Party got the biggest penalty, $2.9 million, while the ruling National Action Party was fined $1.2 million.

López Obrador is demanding a recount of all 41 million ballots from the July 2 election, instead of the partial recount of about 9 percent that officials began Wednesday.

President Vicente Fox's spokesman, Rubén Aguilar, asked Mexicans to respect electoral institutions, a day after officials began sifting through the votes while searching for errors or evidence of fraud.

For more than a week, López Obrador's supporters have been camped along the capital's main Reforma Avenue and the central Zocalo plaza, halting traffic and commerce and trying the patience of many of the 23 million people who live and work in the Mexico City metropolitan area.

the americas

· BOGOTA, Colombia -- Gunmen burst into the home of Colombian radio and television reporter Milton Fabian Sanchez and shot him dead, in the second fatal attack on a journalist in the Andean nation this year, officials said.

Elsewhere, Colombian rebels kidnapped two engineers and a helicopter pilot who were part of a oil exploration crew in the northwestern state of Choco, an official said.

· SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- A man accused of participating in a 2002 rebel attack that killed more than 100 civilians in one of the worst tragedies in Colombia's four-decade-old guerrilla war was captured, authorities said.

· PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti's government threw down the gauntlet to the impoverished and violent Caribbean nation's armed gangs, telling them to lay down their weapons or be killed.

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