MEXICO CITY — Mexico's electoral court prepared Thursday to rule on a left-wing bid to overturn the presidential election win of Enrique Pena Nieto, as metal fences were placed around the tribunal to keep protesters out.
Leftist runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has charged the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) bought five million votes and violated campaign spending limits to secure Pena Nieto's victory.
Pena Nieto has denied the charges and Mexican media predict the Federal Elections Tribunal will rule in his favor, clearing the way for him to begin his six-year term on December 1.
The tribunal said late Wednesday that it was ready to rule on whether the election was valid after hearing all the complaints lodged by the Progressive Movement, a left-wing coalition supporting Lopez Obrador.
The electoral tribunal was guarded by police while tall portable walls were placed outside the court early Thursday. Some people placed signs on the walls, including one reading "They will not take our freedom."
"It is better to invalidate the election. Not doing so is attacking democracy and opting for corruption," Lopez Obrador wrote on Twitter.
The former Mexico City mayor argues that the PRI returned to its old ways in order to return to power after a 12-year absence.
The PRI governed Mexico with an authoritarian hand for 71 years until it lost the 2000 presidential election, but Pena Nieto has promised to break with his party's nefarious past.
The court was to meet Thursday from 2200 GMT but the ruling could come as late as Friday. The tribunal has until September 6 to issue a decision but court officials say they expect a ruling before the new congress opens on Saturday.
Pena Nieto won the election with 38.2 percent of the vote compared to 31.6 percent for Lopez Obrador, who lost by 3.3 million ballots.
PRI officials called on opponents to recognize the election results.
"People are fed up with the fight between political parties and candidates," said Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada, the PRI's representative at the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), the body that organizes elections.
Lopez Obrador already ran for president in 2006 and never recognized that election's results after he lost to Felipe Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), by a mere 0.06 percentage points.
Lopez Obrador led massive protests following the 2006 election but he was unable to change the outcome.
The movement #Yosoy132, which organized protests against Pena Nieto during this year's campaign, says it will lead a "funeral (march) to bury democracy" if the tribunal validates the election.
If Pena Nieto's victory is confirmed, he will inherit from outgoing President Calderon a brutal drug war that has left more than 50,000 people dead since 2006. Calderon did not run due to term limits.
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