Protesters Clash With Mexican Police Ove
Tuesday, August 15, 2006; 2:27 AM
MEXICO CITY -- Protesters scuffled with riot police outside Congress on Monday after supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tried to set up a protest camp to demand a full recount in last month's election.
Lopez Obrador's backers also picketed the Federal Electoral Tribunal as it met to resolve election disputes, and they maintained around-the-clock tent camps across large swaths of central Mexico City.
Lawmakers from Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, later filed a complaint against police and said Sen. Elias Moreno Brizuela had suffered a rib injury, Congressman Juan Jose Garcia suffered minor head wounds, and three other legislators apparently were bruised or shaken.
"Not even in the worst era of the PRI did they do this," Moreno Brizuela said, referring to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico with a heavy hand from 1929 to 2000. "They attacked us ... and beat us." Television footage also showed protesters attacking police.
In a press statement, the Federal Police said that "a group of people blocked the entrances to the Congress building, impeding access to pedestrians and vehicles, and attempting to set up a camp to remain there."
The statement said police followed guidelines by trying to dialogue with the protesters, but that "given their refusal to withdraw, the federal police removed the blockade." Police called on the protesters to "demonstrate within the bounds of the law."
Lopez Obrador contends that fraud was responsible for the official vote count that gave conservative presidential candidate Felipe Calderon of the ruling National Action Party an advantage of about 240,000 ballots in the July 2 race.
In an interview with The New York Times, outgoing President Vicente Fox contested Lopez Obrador's allegations of fraud. "The process has been transparent in the eyes of the world," Fox said, according to the paper. "There is nothing hidden."
Lopez Obrador has demanded a recount of all 41 million votes, which he says would swing the election his way. Instead, the Federal Electoral Tribunal ordered a recount in 9 percent of the country's 130,000 polling places where it said there was evidence of irregularities.
That recount has been completed, and the court has until Aug. 31 to reveal the findings and to resolve all other electoral disputes. By Sept. 6 it must either declare a president-elect or annul the election.
Associated Press writer Dario Lopez contributed to this report.