- Title: MEXICO: FOX FIRES ATTORNEY GENERAL AS ROW GROWS OVER LEFTIST MAYOR
- Date: 28th April 2005
- Summary: (W1) MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (RECENT) (REUTERS) GV: MEXICO CITY MAYOR ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR ARRIVING AT CITY HALL
- Embargoed: 13th May 2005 13:00
- Location: MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVANRQLZ19FBIVN1KE27TO1NRXM
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Mexican President Vicente Fox fires his attorney general as row grows over the crisis surrounding Mexico City's leftist mayor.
President Vicente Fox fired his attorney general on Wednesday (April 27) to try to end a crisis over legal charges that threaten to knock Mexico's most popular politician out of next year's presidential elections.
The move was a victory for Mexico City's leftist mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who holds a strong lead in polls for the elections but would be blocked from running if found guilty in the case.
Under intense pressure, Fox fired Rafael Macedo, the attorney general who led the campaign to put Lopez Obrador on trial for contempt of court charges in a land dispute.
"My government will prevent no one from participating in the next federal election race," Fox said in a national television and radio address.
He said his new attorney general would thoroughly review the case against Lopez Obrador.
Lopez Obrador accused Fox's conservative government of pushing bogus legal charges to block his road to the presidential palace.
Mexican stocks have dropped more than 10 percent since March 7 and an easing of the crisis is likely to be welcomed by financial markets.
Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans marched in silence through the capital last Sunday (April 24) in support of Lopez Obrador, a feisty former Indian rights activist who promises to work for Mexico's poor if elected.
Fox made history when he ended 71 years of one-party rule at elections in 2000, but critics have accused him of betraying democracy by confronting the mayor.
Lopez Obrador's lead over his main rivals in opinion polls has increased in recent weeks, as some Mexicans believe the charges against him are a political ploy to keep him off the ballot in July 2006.
Fox cannot run for re-election. However, his interior minister, Santiago Creel, is the leading candidate for Fox's conservative National Action Party, or PAN.
The other main candidate is Roberto Madrazo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico until Fox's victory five years ago.
Lopez Obrador owes much of his popularity to ambitious public works programmes and cash handouts to pensioners and the poor in Mexico City.
Those spending policies, his fiery rhetoric and a combative style worry some business leaders and Wall Street investors, who fear the arrival of a populist government in Mexico, a major oil exporter and U.S. trade partner.
Prosecutors formally charged Lopez Obrador last week, but the judge sent the case back on a technicality because bail was set and paid before an arrest warrant was issued.
Macedo said on Wednesday night he stepped aside to allow Fox to take decisions "to promote unity and democracy."
U.S. officials have praised Macedo for taking a hard line against Mexico's leading drug-smuggling cartels, jailing several top narcotics kingpins.
Fox named Daniel Cabeza de Vaca, a legal advisor from his home state of Guanajuato, as the new attorney general.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None