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López Obrador ends fight for presidency

Mexico candidate plans rival regime

MEXICO CITY -- Andrés Manuel López Obrador has given up efforts to have himself declared winner of Mexico's presidential race, but he still plans a parallel government to cater to the poor and keep alive his fight against the president-elect, a party spokesman said yesterday.

Since Mexico's top electoral court rejected López Obrador's allegations of widespread fraud in the July 2 vote, he has focused on a Sept. 16 convention where supporters will declare him leader of a resistance government.

The plan is to block President-elect Felipe Calderón at every step, including his Dec. 1 inauguration.

``We are not going to let him take office," said Gerardo Fernandez, the spokesman for López Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party . ``I don't see the usurper government . . . lasting for six years."

Fernandez said the parallel government will fight for recognition in international forums and launch street protests against free trade reforms and privatization of government enterprises. It also will set up an unspecified capital, form a Cabinet, and set policy.

López Obrador plans his own inauguration, complete with a presidential sash presented by his supporters. He has warned followers that such moves may draw ridicule, telling them: ``They will make fun of us."

He also has drawn criticism for comparing himself to national heroes such as Benito Juárez, who led a parallel government during the 1862-67 French invasion.

Many see the comparison as ridiculous because most observers say Calderón won a fair election.

``What are we supposed to do with a crazy man who wants the whole country to capitulate to his whims?" wrote columnist Enrique Canales in the newspaper El Universal.

Others think it's not so crazy. Timed to coincide with Mexico's Independence Day, the convention is modeled on events convened near the end of the 1910-17 revolution to end the chaos and create a government and a constitution.

``It's a very savvy use of political symbols," political scientist Federico Estevez said.

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