Mexican leader to seek referendum on prosecuting predecessors


Mexico City (AFP)

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that he was ready to request a referendum on whether to prosecute several of his predecessors accused of corruption.

Lopez Obrador said that if campaigners fail to gather enough signatures in support of a "people's consultation," he would ask the Senate for such a vote himself.

"I have prepared the draft of a document that I am going to present to request the consultation," he told reporters.

"I have that power under the law and tomorrow I will make the decision to do so if citizens do not manage to gather the signatures."

Lopez Obrador's Morena party is pushing for the referendum on whether to try former presidents Carlos Salinas, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderon and Enrique Pena Nieto.

It is unclear exactly what charges they would face, but Lopez Obrador frequently accuses his predecessors of corruption.

Mexico's political elite has been rocked by graft allegations made by Emilio Lozoya, a former advisor to Pena Nieto and the one-time head of state oil giant PEMEX.

Lozoya has implicated Pena Nieto, Calderon and Salinas during his corruption trial linked to Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Lopez Obrador said that so far about 800,000 signatures in favor of a referendum have been collected -- far fewer than the almost two million required by law.

The left-wing populist has overseen a series of such referendums since coming to power in 2018 on controversial issues including his "Maya Train" railroad project and canceling a part-finished airport for Mexico City.