Tens of Thousands Protest Mexican President’s Electoral Reform Plan

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Tens of thousands took to the streets in Mexico this Sunday (13) to protest against President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s plan to reform the country’s electoral commission, the INE, in what they fear would concentrate power in the hands of the government.

López Obrador, who introduced the plan in April, has long been critical of the country’s election officials, including accusing them of helping to engineer his defeats when he ran for president in 2006 and 2012.

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He said the reform would allow citizens to elect electoral officials and reduce the influence of economic interests in politics. It would also cut funding for political parties and limit advertising time.

Last week, Congress began discussing the plan.

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It has stirred widespread concerns that the changes could presage a power grab because it gives the president more control over electoral systems.

In the past, López Obrador has pursued contentious policies in proposing referendums – including on the cancellation of a partially built airport – to claim popular mandates for his goals.

Protesters in Mexico City, many holding placards and banners or wearing T-shirts with slogans “defend the INE”, started at the Angel of Independence monument.

It gained strength during the day as protesters moved down Avenida Reforma towards the Monument to the Revolution.

A Reuters witness estimated that tens of thousands of protesters attended, while a police officer in Reforma who witnessed the march estimated 50,000.

Organizers put the number in the hundreds of thousands, but some political allies of López Obrador gave much lower estimates.

It is one of the biggest marches against López Obrador’s policies so far.

“Democracy in Mexico is in danger,” said Ana Lilia Moreno, an economist who participated in the march in the capital with her eight-year-old daughter.

“I hope that many young people – and even those who are not normally interested in politics – will attend, who will value our institutions and defend what our parents and grandparents built to mature politically.”

Protesters shared images from other cities on social media.

López Obrador posted a video message on his Twitter as he celebrated his 69th birthday – but did not address the protests. His ruling Morena party and its allies would need a two-thirds majority in Congress to make changes to the constitution. Currently, the party is short of that majority.

(Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher, Dave Graham and Carlos Carrillo in Mexico City; editing by Diane Craft)

Source: CNN Brasil

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