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Pena Nieto declared victor of election by authorities in Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's highest electoral authority declared Friday that Enrique Pena Nieto was the legitimate winner of the July 1 presidential election, formally opening the transition to a new government despite continuing claims of fraud by the left's second-place finisher.

The Federal Electoral Tribunal said leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador failed to prove claims that vote-buying had affected the results of the vote that returns the former autocratic ruling party to Mexico's highest office after a 12-year absence.

Pena Nieto insists his Institutional Revolutionary Party, the PRI, has changed. In the final decades of the 20th century, its rule was marked corruption, vote fraud and periodic economic crises.

“Mexico will have a modern, responsible presidency, open to criticism, willing to listen and take into account all Mexicans,” Pena Nieto said at a ceremony in which the tribunal gave him the document certifying him as president-elect.

Outgoing President Felipe Calderon called Pena Nieto to congratulate him and wish him the best for his administration that will begin when he takes office Dec. 1. Calderon “offered his support so that that administration will be successful,” the president's office said in a statement.

Lopez Obrador told reporters Friday morning that he refused to recognize the election results and was calling for a peaceful protest that he described as “civil disobedience” on Sept. 9 in the Zocalo, the historic plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City. He launched street demonstrations that paralyzed central Mexico City after he lost the 2006 vote, but widespread protests appear far less likely this time.

Lopez Obrador said the electoral tribunal made an illegitimate ruling Thursday evening when it rejected the leftist's allegations of vote-buying and other campaign violations by the PRI. The seven electoral magistrates are nominated by Mexico's Supreme Court and confirmed by Congress and are widely seen as credible and non-partisan, although Lopez Obrador has alleged that several members were biased in favor of the PRI.

“I am telling the people of Mexico that I cannot accept the judgment of the electoral tribunal that declared the presidential election valid,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference.

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Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), right, alongside Jose Luna Ramos, president of the magistrates of Mexico's Federal Electoral Tribunal (TRIFE), holds up a document issued by the TRIFE that declares he won the majority of votes in last July's presidential election in Mexico City, Friday, Aug. 31. (AP)

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