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Mexican presidential hopeful faces criminal charges

[JURIST] The two main parties in Mexico's Congress joined forces late Thursday to strip Mexico City's mayor Manuel Lopez Obrador [Wikipedia profile] of immunity so he can be charged with contempt of court, threatening his bid for the presidency in 2006 [JURIST report]. The charges stem from a relatively minor land expropriation dispute and it is unclear if Lopez Obrador personally made any decisions in the matter. Lopez Obrador denied the charges and claimed it was an attempt by current president Vincente Fox [BBC profile] to oust him from the race for president. Though the left-leaning Lopez Obrador enjoys huge popularity in Mexico City, where he carried out public works and introduced food stamps for the elderly, his current lead in the opinion polls may be in vain if he is found guilty and banned from the presidential race next July. The federal Attorney General's office says it will immediately request a court order for Lopez Obrador's arrest. If approved the mayor will be removed from office but it remains unclear when this will occur and what effect it will ultimately have on his bid for the presidency. AP has more.

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