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Mexico interior minister slams 'illegal' election protests

[JURIST] Mexican Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal [official profile, in Spanish] criticized presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador [campaign website, in Spanish; Wikipedia profile] and supporters staging protests [JURIST report] in Mexico City, saying Tuesday that the protestors have set up an "illegal blockade" by effectively bringing Reforma Avenue and the nearby Zocalo square to a standstill. The protest are causing traffic jams and business delays at the headquarters of many major corporations located on the street. Abascal urged Mexico City Mayor Alejandro Encinas, a member of Lopez Obrador's party, to bring order to the streets of the capital city, saying it was his responsibility to stop the blockade. Hundreds of thousands of protestors began to camp out on the streets of Mexico City on Sunday, demanding a full manual recount of ballots in the July 2 election [JURIST report], where Lopez Obrador lost to conservative candidate Felipe Calderon [campaign website, in Spanish; Wikipedia profile] by just 0.6 percent of the vote [JURIST report]. Lopez Obrador supporters claim that fraudulent election practices [JURIST report] allowed Calderon to win the election, though officials have not confirmed Calderon as the winner.

Observers from the European Union have said that they witnessed no fraud in their review of the election, but Mexico's Federal Electoral Tribunal [official website, in Spanish] voted unanimously late Monday to consider a recount, after hearing arguments from Lopez Obrador on Saturday [JURIST report]. The seven judges will decide whether to recalculate the ballots by August 31 and many of Lopez Obrador's supporters are expected to continue protesting in the capital until a decision is reached. Mexico City police are unlikely to intervene since Lopez Obrador was mayor of the capital city prior to his presidential bid and the police force is still led by his Democratic Revolution Party [party website, in Spanish]. AP has more.

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