Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is refusing to admit defeat in the Mexican presidential elections, as he sits six points behind Enrique Peña Nieto with almost 99% of the votes counted.
“I can’t accept any result without being completely certain that the votes of the citizens were respected and that the election was not fraudulent,” he said in a press conference in Mexico City yesterday.
The closer-than-expected race between Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Obrador’s Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) is fuelling suspicion from Obrador and his followers about the fairness of the vote. The PRI leads with 3.2 million votes according to the Federal Electoral Institute.
“We are requesting the ballots and gathering all testimonies about irregularities,” said Obrador.
The 58-year-old former mayor of Mexico City is accusing his rival and winning candidate Peña Nieto of using money of illicit origins and illegal media sponsorship as well as claiming that the election was full of inaccuracies and inconsistencies.
Despite having signed a contract with other candidates saying they would recognize the results, the presidential contender launched allegations before all votes were counted.
A spokesman for Peña Nieto’s party, Eduardo Sanchez, denied the accusations last night in an interview with Bloomberg.
“The charges are offensive to the dignity of all the voters, because they allege that Mexican voters are susceptible to vote buying,” he said.
Yesterday hundreds of young people gathered at a monument along Mexico City’s Reforma Avenue to protest. The students claimed they knew of cases of irregularities and also said the media manipulated pre-election polls to favour Peña Nieto.
This is the second time that Obrador has refused to concede. In 2006 when he lost by 1% he organized protests that paralyzed Mexico City and lasted for months after the election. The party will officially decide whether or not to formally protest the results tomorrow once the district votes have been counted.
In the meantime Peña Nieto has already released an inaugural speech pledging to move Mexico forward without corruption and with open-mindedness.
“I will be a modern, responsible president, who is open to criticism and ready to listen and take into account the views of everyone,” he said.