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Results from an official vote recount in Mexico are confirming a presidential election victory for Enrique Pena Nieto, but his rival still refuses to concede because of allegations of fraud.
With over 99 percent of the votes tallied late Thursday, Pena Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), held a nearly seven point lead over leftist Andres Manual Lopez Obrador.
The figures, which included a recount of nearly half of Mexico’s ballot boxes, were largely unchanged from the initial results of Sunday’s election. If confirmed, the results would set up a return to power for the PRI, which ruled the country for seven decades until 2000.
But Lopez Obrador, who wanted a full recount, continues to accuse the PRI of vote buying and coercion. He gave a press conference Thursday in front of a wall of gift cards he says were given to voters before Sunday’s balloting.
“They are giving cash, basic food items, construction materials, electric household items,” said Lopez Obrador. “All of this was part of a well-designed and deliberate operation, a dishonest, anti-democratic buying of votes.”
In 2006, Lopez Obrador demanded a recount after losing the presidency to Felipe Calderon by slightly more than half a percentage point. His requests were refused, triggering protests by the candidate’s supporters that choked Mexico City for weeks.
Lopez Obrador’s latest accusations were fueled by scenes of thousands of people rushing to grocery stores to redeem pre-paid gift cards they said the PRI had given them ahead of the vote. Several recipients told reporters they had been told to bring a photocopy of their voter identification card in order to receive the gift certificates.
The PRI has denied any irregularities and has threatened to open an investigation into what it says are false accusations.
The apparent third-place finisher, Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling conservative National Action Party, also says campaign spending violations had marred the vote, but she did not challenge the legitimacy of the outcome.