18 Mar 2023, 08:18

Mexico president calls big rally with election on horizon

MEXICO CITY, March 18, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador has called for a big political rally in Mexico City on Saturday aimed
at energizing his supporters ahead of key elections next year.

The gathering is seen as the left-wing populist's riposte to opponents of a
controversial new election law that he promoted.

The rally is Lopez Obrador's "response to the opposition coming out to
protest against his electoral reform," political analyst Jose Antonio Crespo
told AFP.

Tens of thousands of Mexicans demonstrated on February 26 against a new law
reducing the size and budget of the National Electoral Institute (INE), the
independent body that oversees elections.

Critics see the changes -- which were approved by the ruling party-controlled
Congress last month -- as an attack on democracy ahead of the 2024
presidential election.

Mexican presidents are barred from serving more than one six-year term, and
Lopez Obrador has ruled out trying to change the constitution to stay in

Even so, he is keen to see his Morena party hold onto power after he stands

Lopez Obrador, who enjoys an approval rating of around 60 percent, has called
Saturday's rally to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the nationalization
of Mexican oil.

"We have to reaffirm our independence, our sovereignty," said the 69-year-old
leader, whose nationalist energy policies have unsettled foreign governments
and investors.

Political columnist Hernan Gomez Bruera described the electoral reform and
oil expropriation anniversary as a "pretext" for the president to mobilize
his supporters.

The rally is due to start at 5 pm (2300 GMT) and Lopez Obrador is expected to
address the crowds in Mexico City's main square from the National Palace.

A similar rally in November drew hundreds of thousands of Lopez Obrador's
supporters into the streets of Mexico City, two weeks after an earlier
protest against his electoral reforms.

Lopez Obrador alleges that the INE endorsed fraud when he ran unsuccessfully
for the presidency in 2006 and 2012, before winning in 2018.

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