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World

Electoral Tribunal Clears Mexican President Of Fraud

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The main rival to Mexico's president-elect says he's leaving mainstream politics for now. That quiets the key source of opposition to Enrique Pena Nieto, whose victory in this summer's election had been clouded by accusations of vote buying and fraud. But Mexico's electoral tribunal has upheld the election results, and Pena Nieto has moved forward in naming a transition team. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: It's been more than two months since Mexicans went to the polls to elect a new president, and it will be another two and a half until the winner takes the oath of office. Since losing by less than seven percentage points, second place finisher Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has dogged the president-elect, who had hoped for a smooth ride into power.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Obrador, Obrador.

KAHN: However, yesterday at a rally in front of tens of thousands of supporters packed into Mexico City's historic Zocalo plaza, Lopez Obrador announced he was ready to move aside, well, sort of.

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Foreign language spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

KAHN: In his typical feisty oratory, Lopez Obrador refused to recognize Pena Nieto as the country's legitimate president. But unlike six years ago when he lost the presidency by a slim margin and led paralyzing protests for weeks, Lopez Obrador was more resigned. He said he was leaving the PRD, the Party of the Democratic Revolution, which he helped found nearly a quarter century ago.

OBRADOR: (Foreign language spoken)

KAHN: In this new stage in my life, Lopez Obrador told the crowd, I will dedicate all of my imagination and work to the transformation of Mexico. He pledged to head a new civic movement dedicated to peaceful social change. Political analyst Denise Dresser says despite the growing animosity toward Lopez Obrador and his protests, he and a fledgling student movement did put Pena Nieto on the defensive and forced him to back democratic reforms.

DENISE DRESSER: He didn't slide into power as he thought he might, and that he was forced to respond. Not that he wanted to, but he had to.

KAHN: Pena insists his PRI party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party which ruled Mexico for 71 years with a reputation for corruption and vote rigging is more democratic and modern now. In his 46-member transition team announced last week, there were many young faces, most in their 30s and 40s and educated in the U.S. But analyst Jorge Chabat says the team also includes old members of the PRI party. Chabat says Pena has his work cut out for him if he really wants to bring change to both the PRI and Mexico.

JORGE CHABAT: The people who oppose the change in the political system are not only outside the PRI. Many of them are inside the PRI.

KAHN: Pena has to wait more than two months before he really gets down to work. Mexico has one of the longest electoral transition periods in the world. The Mexican president doesn't take power until December 1st. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.