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Lopez Obrador's Camp Takes Down Its Tents

September 16, 2006|From the Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Supporters of leftist politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday ended a street protest that clogged the heart of the capital for nearly seven weeks, but they vowed to find other ways to resist the incoming conservative president.

Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor who contends his narrow loss in the July 2 election was fraudulent, said he planned to travel across the country to meet with supporters.

Traffic started flowing again along Paseo de la Reforma, which had been blocked by tents, cars and buses since July 30 in a bid to force a full recount in the presidential vote.

Lopez Obrador and his supporters refuse to recognize the narrow victory of Felipe Calderon, the candidate of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party who is scheduled to take office Dec. 1.

Protesters began dismantling the tent city Thursday to allow the military to stage its Independence Day parade today along the traditional route.

Speaking in the Zocalo, or central plaza, Lopez Obrador did not offer any details about his nationwide tour.

"I am not giving up or giving in, and I'm going to visit all the towns in the country," he said. "Tomorrow will start a new era for the construction of the republic."

The announcement that the protest camps would be dismantled came a day after Fox decided to move Friday night's annual independence celebration away from the main square to avoid the demonstrators.

The decision prompted Lopez Obrador to declare victory in that battle with Fox. His supporters planned to hold their own independence celebrations at the Zocalo.

Fox spokesman Ruben Aguilar said Friday that the president moved the ceremony to Dolores Hidalgo, 170 miles away, because the government had "solid information" that radical groups planned violence that could have caused deaths. He refused to give specifics.

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